Quick hands and lethal shooting propelled No. 2 Michigan (17-0, 6-0 B1G) to a sound 80-60 defeat over a Northwestern team that continues to struggle with the Big Ten’s best.
With Vic Law a surprise inactive as a result of an ongoing lower-body injury, Northwestern (10-7, 1-5) failed to keep pace with the Wolverine’s wide array of scorers who shot 52.5 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. Four players finished in double figures for the Wolverines, but it was Jon Teske’s first-half 17 that put the game largely out of reach by halftime.
The Wolverines pounced on the Wildcats right away, opening the game on a 10-0 run. Northwestern managed to stick tight for the middle part off the first half, but Michigan turned the game into a blowout with a flurry of steals and fast-break points. Teske stretched the floor for the Wolverines, showing his range from outside while also dominating inside the paint.
Taking a 50-28 lead in the second half, Michigan cruised through the final 20 minutes of play, never letting the Wildcats get within twelve points. Northwestern showed resilience and tried to make a game of it with a 13-4 run midway through the second half.
The Wolverines were ultimately too tough, and the Wildcats sorely missed their leading scorer in what ended up being an 80-60 defeat on the road.
Northwestern relied on Dererk Pardon and Ryan Taylor to shoulder the scoring load in Law’s absence. Both played well for stretches, as they shot a combined 14-24 from the field. Pardon was solid inside, scoring a team-high 20, while Taylor added 15 behind four threes. Still, their efforts weren’t even close to enough.
Outside of those two, the Cats struggled to find production. No other player finished in double figures, and the team shot below 33 percent excluding Pardon and Taylor.
Miller Kopp looked confident with his shot and found success going to the hoop when Northwestern needed a spark on offense, but the Cats needed more than eight points from their third-leading scorer to keep up.
Often stagnant on offense and on the wrong side of Zavier Simpson’s 5-of-10 performance from beyond the arc — he’s shooting 28.9 percent from three this season — Northwestern looked overmatched.
Northwestern plays Rutgers Friday in Piscataway.