No. 6 Michigan takes Big Ten lead to Penn State
Michigan held onto the top spot in the Big Ten on Saturday. The sixth-ranked Wolverines will try to retain their lead against the team sitting at the bottom of the conference.
Michigan faces Penn State on Tuesday night in State College, Pa.
Michigan (22-2, 11-2 Big Ten) avenged one of its two losses this season by grinding out a 61-52 home win over then-No. 19 Wisconsin.
"This was a bit of a revenge game," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "They did beat us. It was our first loss. People stormed the court and we don't like that."
Senior guard Charles Matthews scored a team-high 18 points in the rematch, breaking out of a scoring slump in the process. He had averaged 8.0 points on 31.4 percent shooting in the previous six games.
All but two of Matthews' points came in the second half.
"With most players it's very contagious; you just make a shot and all of sudden you say, 'I got it going. I made two, I've got it going,'" Beilein said.
"You miss two or three in a row, it's really hard to make the fourth, fifth or sixth. There's no magic in that either. He made shots and now all of sudden he made more shots because he relaxed. He's not pressing."
Matthews will head into Tuesday's game with a confidence boost.
"I feel like the moment you start thinking you're in a slump, that's going to continue going," Matthews told the Detroit News. "I always come into a game like, 'All right, this is it. Let me get going.' I never doubted myself. I understand as a player you go through these times.
"There's going to be more times in my career where I have bad games," he added. "I've got a lot of basketball left in me. I never got discouraged and I'm going to continue to shoot my way out of any bad moment."
The Nittany Lions (8-15, 1-11) haven't played since Thursday, when they lost 74-70 at Ohio State. The Buckeyes scored the final five points after Penn State took a 70-69 lead with 1:34 remaining.
Ohio State shot 11 more free throws and outscored the visitors 23-14 at the foul line.
Junior forward Lamar Stevens and senior guard Josh Reaves led Penn State with 20 points apiece. The Nittany Lions captured their lone conference victory earlier the week, winning at Northwestern 59-52.
"We got down 15, went down again in the second half and we just kept fighting back," coach Patrick Chambers said.
"We had our chances. We have to learn how to play hard and together without fouling and then we have to be able to finish games. ... We'll learn from this. Obviously, we are not happy with losing. There are no moral victories, but I felt like we got better."
Penn State has lost its last five home games, most recently a 99-90 overtime decision to Purdue on Jan. 31.
The Wolverines won the first meeting between the teams in Ann Arbor, 68-55 on Jan. 3. They were led by sophomore guard Jordan Poole, who had 17 points, and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who supplied 16 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Mike Watkins paced the Nittany Lions with 19 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
--Field Level MediaHome