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January 15, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-15

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8A - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.con

Not a pushover, M' overcomes Penn State

Walton's career-high
performance sparks offense

By DANIEL FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
After suffering an upset loss to
Penn State last season in Happy
Valley, the Michigan men's bas-
ketball team came out on Tues-
daydetermined to put all memory
of the
defeat PENN STATE 67
behind MICHIGAN 80
it.
With help from freshman
ward DnrrickWaltn _Tr'c 12

By DANEIL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
When Penn State coach
Patrick Chambers compiled his
list of keys to beating Michigan
on Tuesday night, it's safe to say
freshman point guard Derrick
Walton Jr. wasn't at the top of his
list.
On a team stocked full of talent,
highlighted by sophomores Nik
Stauskas and Glenn Robinson
III, Walton simply isn't one of
the Wolverines's go-to threats to
score. But Walton wasted little
time making Chambers regret
not keying in on the freshman, as
Michigan knocked off the Nittany
Lions, 80-67, thanks to 16 points
from the point guard.
"Now he's on ourt-" Chambers
said, pausing, not ready to admit
that he completely overlooked
Walton. "Not that he wasn't on
our radar, but he really stepped
up today."
Right out of the gate,
Walton made his presence felt.
Capitalizing on the attention
Penn State paid to Stauskas and
Robinson, Walton drilled a wide-
open 3-pointer from the corner
just 13 seconds into the game. It
was a sign of things to come, as
Walton was repeatedly left open
on the perimeter, specifically in
the corner opposite Stauskas,
giving him room to operate a
steady inside-out game.
Eleven seconds after his first
make, Walton was the beneficiary
of a steal by sophomore guard
Caris LeVert for an easy fast-
break layup. Less than two
minutes later, the freshman hit
another 3-pointer from the same
corner, extending Michigan's lead
to 8-0.
"It really propelled us"

Robinson said. "He's been
working hard and I'm just glad to
see him hit eight straight points,
especially to make the defense
respect him. Sometimes they
don't respect him, think he's a
pass-first (point guard).
"I think he has gained a lot
more confidence."
Minutes later, with the shot
clock winding down and the
ball in his hands beyond the arc,
Walton penetrated and drew
a foul. He knocked down both
free throws to give him 10 of the
Wolverines' first 14 points.
It was the first of three buck-
ets Walton scored in the final
moments of the shot clock - a sig-
nificantboost to the offense that's
still searching for a secondary
option to Stauskas who can create
his own shot, especially with the
shot clock winding down.
"That's critical for us,"
Robinson said. "He did a great job
at finding his own shot tonight."
By halftime, Walton's 12 first-
half points nearly matched his
career-high 14 points for an entire
game.
Walton was held scoreless for
the first 13 minutes of the second
half as Robinson and Stauskas
took control of the offense, but
the point guard did hit two big
baskets to give him a career-
high 16 points. His efficient night
ended with a six-for-nine mark
from the field. He was credited
for just three assists, though that
figure is misleading, as his ability
to constantly penetrate the lane
thanks to what Michigan coach
John Beilein called "jet-quick"
dribble-drive moves created a
lot of space for the Wolverines's
shooters.
"There's a lot going on inside
that freshman's brain and he's

trying to pick his spots," Beilein
said. "It's slow steps forward
he's making as far as running
our offense and understanding
all the stuff that we do. It can be
confusing at times ... but I can
se it siomino- down and se himm

in the first minute of action.
The Detroit native didn't
stop there either, as he swished
another 3-pointer at the 17:39
mark to give Michigan an 8-0
lead.
Thanks to sloppy play on
offense - eight first-half turn-
overs compared to two for the
Wolverines - the Nittany Lions
were forced to play catch-up the
entire first half, with their deficit
never getting below four.
However, in the second half,
things started to resemble last
year's .game. After leading by
seven at the half, Michigan let
Penn State continue its run from
the end of the half to cut what
had been a13-point lead to 40-37.
With Iashbacks of last year's
collapse coming back, starting
from the end of the first half,
Michigan put a quick end to the
Nittany Lions' outburst soon
thereafter.
"We talked about (last
year's game) at halftime," said
sophomore guard Nik Stauskas.
"We were up by seven or eight,
I think it was the exact same
thing at Penn State. We made.
that note, especially to Derrick
and (freshman forward) Zak
(Irvin) - the freshmnen - saying
we were in the same position last
year, so we couldn't let down."
While Michigan coach John
Beilein rejected the concept that
he brought last year's game up
during intermission, saying he
has the same approach to every
game regardless of history or
opponent, he was happy the play-
ers inade note of the similarities.
Though the consequence of
letting Penn State back in the
game was reminiscent of last
year, Michigan recovered from
the Nittany Lions' quick second-
half start. After halting the run
with a 3-pointer from sophomore
guard Caris LeVert, Michigan
hovered for a few minutes with
a small lead before unleashing
a 9-0 run - highlighted by an
alley-oop from LeVert to sopho-

more forward Glenn Robinson
III - to push the lead back to 12.
"They answered the bellevery
time," said Penn State coach Pat-
rick Chambers. "You know what
Nik's going to do. You know what
Robinson's going to do. It's the
other guys you try totake care of
that stepped up tonight."
After the brief scare, Michi-
gan never saw its lead fall back
below eight. While Walton
continued his hot play from
Nebraska, finishing with °a
career-high 16 points, the Wol-
verines' unselfishness on offense
also enabled them to control the
game. Racking up assists on 12 of
their 14 baskets in the first half-
with four apiece by Levert and
Stauskas - the Wolverines were
able to work the ball all over the
court, creating options for bas-
kets in the paint (12 points) and
beyond the arc (six 3-pointers).
While being more of a distrib-
utor in the first half to go along
with his eight points, Stauskas
scored 13 in the second half on
drives to the rim and 3-pointers
to cushion Michigan's lead.
"He's got that great
combination that very few
people have," Beilein said of
Stauskas. "He can't just shoot.
He can really shoot. So now you
can drive as well and you can
pass. He's really showing he can
play the guard position."
Added Stauskas: "In the
second half, they played a little
bit more honest and the lane was
opening up for me, so I was just
trying to be aggressive."
Though Michigan led from
start to finish, Penn State's
backcourt duo of D.J. Newbill
and Tim Frazier combined for 34
points and kept the game within
reach, until John Johnson
missed a triple with 2:19 left that
would have put its deficit back to
single digits.
With the missed opportunity,
Michigan ran the clock down on
long possessions and secured its
sixth straight victory.

getting better at it."
Tuesday night was Walton's
third consecutive game scoring
in double figures. And as he
continues to appear on opposing
coaches' radars, as Chambers
said he will, it will only continue
to make Michigan's offense more
potent as it diversifies beyond just
Stauskas and Robinson.

first-half points, the Wolverines
did just that, defeating the
Nittany Lions,80-67.
From the start, it appeared
Michigan (4-0 Big Ten, 12-4
overall) would be in control
as Walton scored'the first five
points of the game in the first 24
seconds, while Penn State (0-5,
9-9) committed three turnovers

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