By Zach Koons
The Northwestern men’s basketball team had the opportunity to steal a road win away from No. 2 Michigan Sunday night, which would ideally jumpstart a miraculous mid-season turnaround. However, the Wildcats ran into more than they could handle on Sunday as they struggled in Ann Arbor, eventually falling to the Wolverines 80-60.
Northwestern (10-7) never seemed to get a hold on the flow of the game, especially due to the absence of their prolific redshirt-senior forward, Vic Law. Law was ruled out from the game and is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.
On the flip side, Michigan (17-0) looked as comfortable as possible, leading for much of the game by double digits. The Wolverines are no strangers to playing with the lead and blowing out hopeful opponents, as they’ve now notched 15 wins by 10 points or more en route to their best start in school history.
Michigan did just that in the game against Northwestern, jumping out to an early lead with a 10-0 run to start the ballgame and eventually ending the half with the exact same outburst. The Wolverines were led by junior center Jon Teske, who went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and dropped 17 points on the Wildcats in the first half.
Much of the half went poorly for the Wildcats due to turnovers. Northwestern ended with 13 in a game where nothing less than perfection was required. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats tried to match Teske’s scoring with Dererk Pardon, who was able to put up ten points before the halftime buzzer.
In the second half, Teske began to cool down and Northwestern began to settle down, create open shots and play stifling defense. The Wildcats still desperately missed the presence of scorer Vic Law and continued to turn towards Pardon and grad-transfer Ryan Taylor. Pardon ended the contest with 20 points, while Taylor, the only other Northwestern player in double digits, ended with 15.
Northwestern was able to cut the lead down to 13, but in crunch time Michigan turned to an unlikely veteran hero in the form of Zavier Simpson. The senior Wolverine guard scored 12 in the first half and another 12 in the second, ending with a career high 24 points.
The Wildcats continue to struggle in the impressive Big Ten, and the loss keeps them at 12th in the conference with a record of 1-5. The ‘Cats, who desperately need to right the ship soon, will have a massive road opportunity this Friday, January 18, against east-coast opponent Rutgers.