U-M Closes Regular Season with Win at PSU, Shares Big Ten Title
Evan Smotrycz

March 4, 2012

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Site: State College, Pa. (Bryce Jordan Center)
Score: #13 Michigan 71, Penn State 65
Records: U-M (23-8, 13-5), PSU (12-19, 4-14)
Next U-M Game: Friday, March 9 -- vs. Northwestern or Minnesota - Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals (Indianapolis, Ind.), 6:30 p.m. (TV: BTN)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The 13th-ranked University of Michigan men's basketball team closed the regular season with a 71-65 victory at Penn State Sunday afternoon (March 4) at the Bryce Jordan Center, and after an Ohio State win at Michigan State, earned a share of the Wolverines' first Big Ten title since 1986. The Wolverines shot 59.5 percent from the field (25-42) and 56 percent from beyond the arc (10-18) as four players finish in double figures.

In 30 minutes of action off the bench, sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass.) recorded a season-high 17 points in conference play. Smotrycz posted 12 points in the opening half, five above his season average (7.5), and added four rebounds. On Dec. 29, Smotrycz posted a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds, against Penn State at Crisler Center.

Freshman point guard Trey Burke (Columbus, Ohio) led the scoring effort with 19 points and hit four free throws down the stretch for the Wolverines. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (Miami, Fla.) added 13 points, including a big jumper with 41 seconds left that gave U-M a six-point lead. Senior Zack Novak (Chesterton, Ind.) posted 11 points and senior Stu Douglass (Carmel, Ind.) contributed nine points.

Michigan and Penn State played a back-and-forth first 10 minutes of the opening half, but the Wolverines seized control with an 18-4 run that produced a 39-21 lead following Hardaway's three-pointer at 2:57. The Nittany Lions cut the deficit to 11 at halftime, 39-28. Defensively, U-M held PSU without a basket for nearly 10 minutes during its run that produced an 18-point lead.

U-M built the halftime lead with a blistering 70- percent shooting performance from the field (14-20) and behind the arc (7-10). Smotrycz and Hardaway led the first-half offensive explosion with double-digit performances in the first 20 minutes. Smotrycz tallied 12 points, hitting two three-pointers, a jumper, one layoff and a pair of free throws. Hardaway chipped in 10 points on three threes and a free throw.

Penn State pulled within eight points, 39-31, one minute into the second half, but Burke hit a jumper that ignited a scoring string for the Wolverines. U-M put together a 15-4 run that was capped by a Smotrycz three-pointer at 11:24. The third three of the day for Smotrycz gave U-M a 54-35 lead and forced a Nittany Lion timeout.

Penn State responded with a 9-2 run that cut the deficit to 56-44 with 7:19 left in the contest. The Nittany Lions continued to chip away at the Wolverines' lead, scoring six straight after the timeout to cut the margin to 56-50.

Novak stopped the Penn State run with a jumper at the left elbow at 5:20. After a pair of free throws by PSU's Ross Travis, Burke converted a four-point play, knocking down a three-pointer and free throw after being fouled on the shot. The Nittany Lions answered with a four-point play of their own on a three-pointer and free throw by Trey Lewis. Novak fouled out on the play that made the score 62-56.

Jermaine Marshall scored a driving two to pull the Lions within four, 62-58, with 2:38 remaining. After an offensive rebound by junior/sophomore forward Jordan Morgan (Detroit, Mich.), Burke drove the left side and scored a layup at 1:24 to increase the advantage to 64-58. Ross Travis converted two free throws to pull within four (64-60), but Hardaway answered with a jumper from the left wing that pushed the lead back to six with 41 seconds remaining in the contest. Penn State was forced to foul after a missed jumper. Burke converted both ends of the 1-and-1 to give the Wolverines a 68-60 lead. Another miss by PSU sent Hardaway to the line, where he converted on 1-of-2 free throws. Marshall hit a three for Penn State, Burke converted a pair of free throws and Tim Frazier made a layup at the buzzer as Michigan won its13th game in conference play.

Michigan has secured a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament being held Thursday through Sunday, March 8-11, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. U-M will open play Friday (March 9) at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of Minnesota and Northwestern. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

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