UM rolls past Northwestern for 17th straight victory
Ann Arbor — The accomplishments continue to pile up for Michigan.
After recording a single-season program-record 33 victories and winning back-to-back Big Ten tournament titles for the first time last season, the Wolverines made history once again on Sunday night.
This time, No. 2 Michigan pounded Northwestern, 80-60, at Crisler Center to sweep the regular-season series and set the program record for best start at 17-0.
The Wolverines (6-0 Big Ten) surpassed the previous mark of 16-0 set by the 1985-86 and 2012-13 teams to take sole possession of the feat and move into a class of their own.
In order do so, though, Michigan had to get past the one team that pushed it to the limit all season and needed to dodge a 3-point bullet at the buzzer to escape with a win on Dec. 4.
Junior center Jon Teske and junior guard Zavier Simpson made sure the Wolverines had no trouble with the Wildcats this time around. Teske tied a career high with 17 points — all coming in the first half — and 11 rebounds, while Simpson set career highs with 24 points and five made 3-pointers for Michigan, which shot 52.5 percent (31-for-59) from the field.
The duo had everything clicking on both ends and helped Michigan roar out to a 10-0 lead, with Teske burying two jumpers and Simpson hitting a running hook shot to force a timeout less than three minutes into the game.
Northwestern eventually settled down, settled in and began digging out of the hole. The Wildcats cut the deficit to two while using the same defensive strategy against Simpson by daring him to shoot from deep, which worked on his first two attempts.
But Simpson responded by burying his next two deep ball shots, with the second make coming during a 21-6 flurry over the final 5 minutes, 30 minutes of the half that helped Michigan take a 22-point lead at the break.
And it was Simpson and Teske who starred during the blitz. Following his second made 3-pointer, Simpson threw a beautiful outlet pass to freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis (11 points) that led to a foul and free throw.
Teske then stole the show by scoring 11 straight points for Michigan, highlighted by three made 3-pointers. His last two came in back-to-back fashion from atop the key within a 29-second span to spark a 10-0 spurt to close the half.
Redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews (13 points) followed with a fast-break dunk off a steal to send the sellout crowd into a frenzy before Simpson capped it with a steal and fast-break layup as Michigan jetted into the break with a 50-28 cushion.
That proved to be a worstcase scenario for Northwestern (10-7, 1-5) considering the Wildcats were without leading scorer Vic Law (lower body), who tallied 19 points and seven rebounds in the first meeting between the teams.
Northwestern big man Dererk Pardon, who gave Michigan fits last month, did what he could and finished with 20 points on 10-for-16 shooting despite being doubled in the post at times.
After Michigan pushed its lead to 24, Pardon converted two layups and a dunk during a 15-4 run where the Wolverines’ offense dried up and could only muster nine points over the 10 minutes of the second half.
Even with the rough stretch, the Wolverines still comfortably led by double digits and were never in serious jeopardy as the closest the Wildcats could claw within was 61-48 with 9:30 remaining.
Charles Matthews was one of four Wolverines in double figures, finishing with 13 points.