ANN ARBOR, Michigan — It was a good opening four minutes for Pete Nance. After that, it was an ugly remaining 36 minutes for No. 19 Northwestern (6-3, 3-2 B1G) in Ann Arbor as No. 16 Michigan (9-0, 4-0 B1G) shot the lights out of the Crisler Center and trounced the Wildcats 85-66 Sunday night.
Michigan outclassed NU in every facet of the game. They shared the wealth, adding 22 assists, dominated the boards with an 42-28 rebounding advantage and commanded the paint with eight blocks.
Five players scored in double figures for Juwan Howard, and UM combined to shoot 50% from the field and 44% from three. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson led the way with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting while sophomore guard Franz Wagner recorded a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds, adding five assists and five blocks.
It couldn’t be any more different for Chris Collins’ team, which struggled establishing a rhythm in the half court and connected on a paltry 28% of its three-point attempts. Nance didn’t score in the second half, while Robbie Beran and Miller Kopp added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The Wildcats got off to a quick start with Nance leading the way, as he scored their first eight points of the night. Once he left the floor with NU leading 8-2, the ‘Cats struggled to find any offensive production and the Wolverines took advantage on both ends of the floor.
Michigan went on an extended 16-4 run to go up 28-18 at the under-8 media timeout with an onslaught of three point shooting. UM shot 6-of-9 from three in the first 12 minutes of the game while Northwestern missed its first three from downtown.
Northwestern’s poor shooting began to fade away as Chase Audige and Kopp started to heat up, combing for 10 points in a span of 3:27. Defensively, though, the Wildcats struggled to string together stops as Michigan was red hot from the field.
Just as NU began to chip away and drew within five, Michigan used three straight triples to close the half on a 9-0 run and head into the locker room shooting 53% from three. On the other end, UM’s defense continued to stifle any sort of Northwestern momentum by shutting down the perimeter. Northwestern’s guards shot just 2-of-11, and the Wildcats’ bench scored four first-half points, all of which came from sophomore center Ryan Young.
Sophomore guard Boo Buie suffered an injury at the end of the first half but returned briefly in the second before the game developed into a blowout. He finished scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting.
Chauncee Brown and Wagner were the main contributors for the Wolverines, combining for 20 points off of 8-13 shooting combined in the first half. Wagner did it all, as he racked up seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the first 20 minutes alone.
Things only got worse in the second half. Nothing came easy offensively for the Wildcats, and just as they began to key in on things behind the arc defensively, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson dominated down low, putting up 11 points in just four minutes. From there, the Wolverines were able to do whatever they wanted offensively and shot out to a 23-point lead with 13:36 on the clock. Dickinson totaled 15 points in the half.
Outside of Robbie Beran’s 12 second-half points, the Wildcats had close to no offensive production, as they shot 13-of-31 from the field in the second half. While Michigan kept up its intensity, Northwestern mailed it in as the game got away from them in the latter 20 minutes.
Things don’t get any easier for NU, which will attempt to break its two-game skid Thursday against No. 15 Illinois at Welsh-Ryan Arena.