The hundreds of students who rushed the floor following Michigan’s 81-73 upset over No. 4 Duke today at Crisler Arena knew they had just seen something huge.
For the second time this season, the unranked Wolverines upset a top-five team. Today’s game was in front of Michigan’s first sellout crowd of the season.
The Wolverines shined with their 48.3 field goal percentage, including 7-for-16 from beyond the arc.
Duke’s 3-point game that was so effective last Tuesday against Purdue (8-for-22) was nowhere to be found in the first half. The Blue Devils shot a dismal 2-for-12 from beyond the arc, and would not hit the long ball until the game’s final minutes. Michigan was there to recover and picked up 14 first-half defensive rebounds.
With just fewer than two minutes to play in the first half, sophomore forward Manny Harris made a cross-court pass to freshman guard Zack Novak in the left corner for a three. The sold out crowd of 13,751 exploded.
The shot was one of Novak’s four 3-pointers. He finished with 14 points and three rebounds.
With the crowd on its feet in the half’s final seconds, Duke looked to generate some offense to close out the half. But sophomore guard John Scheyer missed yet another 3-pointer to leave Michigan in command, 32-30.
The two teams traded leads early in the second half. Within a minute, Michigan committed back-to-back turnover and wasa down by four.
Duke had back-to-back turnovers of its own. Michigan connected on the fast break to regain its lead.
Junior forward DeShawn Sims led Michigan with a career-high 28 points.
Michigan coach John Beilein said the Wolverines fell to Maryland last Wednesday on the road in part because they did not play with the same poise in the second half. Aside from one miscue, the Wolverines remained steady and confident against one of the best defenses in the country. Michigan committed 11 turnovers compared to Duke’s 13.
Novak’s back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half lifted the Wolverines when they looked like they had run out of gas.
With just more than six minutes remaining, Sims went up for a potential monstrous dunk, but Duke fouled him. Sims missed his second free throw, but Novak hustled for the offensive board.
Sophomore point guard Kelvin Grady took control in the second half, finishing with nine points and five assists. The Grand Rapids native matched the Blue Devils’ speed, finding open lanes and teammates. In the games final minutes, he hit the crucial free throws, part of Michigan’s 18-22 effort from the charity stripe.
Harris, who had 25 points against Duke two weeks ago when the two teams played in New York, had 17 today and five rebounds.
Michigan had its largest lead of the game (10 points) with just more than one minute left, but Gerald Henderson hit a timely 3-pointer to bring the game with in six. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski used his last timeout with just more than one minute left.
But the Wolverines maintained their composure at the foul line to close the game. When the buzzer sounded, the bleachers cleared, and the students rushed the court. In postgame interviews, Novak’s skin was marked with blue body paint from hugging a fan.
Michigan has six wins heading into a four-game stretch in which it plays Eastern Michigan, Oakland, Florida Gulf Coast and North Carolina Central. If the Wolverines continue to shoot well and execute, they could easily have 10 wins by the new year. It would be a stark contrast to Beilein’s first season where the Wolverines finished 10-22.