ANN ARBOR — A visit to the Big Ten co-leading Michigan Wolverines was not what the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team with chronic struggles on the road, needed. A dominating performance, coming off its first loss of the conference season at Indiana on Sunday was exactly what the Wolverines needed.
Those conflicting formulas produced a 79-50 rout in which Michigan led by 28 points at the half, had 21 assists on its 26 made field goals, and hit all 14 of its free throw attempts.
“I’m really happy with the way we played,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “We really came out with a great focus, especially on defense. And I think we played a little angry after that loss at Indiana.”
Nebraska coach Tim Miles winced while reviewing the nightmare of a night for the Cornhuskers.
“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “You have to learn to play on the road, or you are in trouble. Michigan’s a great team, and we just got knocked in the mouth.”
The Wolverines (17-5, 9-1 Big Ten) received a game-high 23 points from forward Glenn Robinson III, while guards Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert had 16 each.
Guard Nik Stauskas, Michigan’s leading scorer at nearly 18 points per game, shrugged off the extra defensive attention applied by Nebraska, handing out a career-high eight assists while taking just three shots and scoring nine points.
“Every time they double-teamed him, he made that extra pass. He’s really grown in his game,” Belein said about the sophomore from Canada.
Guard Shavon Shields led the Cornhuskers with 13 points. Guard Nathan Hawkins added 11, and forward Walter Pitchford scored 10 for Nebraska (11-10, 3-6).
Despite the huge early cushion, the Wolverines never let up, continuing to stretch the lead as the 3-pointers kept falling. Irvin had four of Michigan’s 13 triples on the night.
“We did play a little bit angry, and I think that’s because we wanted to make a statement,” Irvin said. “I think we did that tonight.”
After leading 49-21 at the half, the Wolverines dashed any hopes the Cornhuskers had of a comeback by staying hot. Three-pointers from Robinson and LeVert were part of an early blitz that fashioned a 66-30 lead with more than 14 minutes to play.
A basket inside by forward Jon Horford around the midway point of the second half made the Michigan advantage 41 points, the largest lead of the night.
“I felt like they made them all,” Nebraska’s Miles said about Michigan’s shooting, which cooled off late in the game to drop to 50 percent. The Cornhuskers got out-rebounded 35-26, and Michigan seemed to get every contested loose ball.
“That’s not us,” Miles said, “but I didn’t see the determination, the intensity and the fire we need to have when things go bad. Every environment is a little different, and it’s always difficult to win on the road. Some of the best teams struggle to win on the road, but we just have to figure out a way.”
Michigan jumped out to an 8-0 lead, getting two 3-pointers from LeVert, and stretched the early advantage to 13-3 less than four minutes into the game on freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr.’s fast-break bucket.
Nebraska committed five turnovers in the first seven minutes. The Cornhuskers settled down, momentarily, putting together a 9-2 run that got them within four with 11:50 left in the half.
Then the Wolverines exploded, fueled by 3-pointers from Irvin and Robinson that produced a 12-0 run, extending the lead to 28-12. The flurry continued, and Irvin’s fourth 3-pointer in the closing minutes of the half was part of a 27-3 Michigan run that ballooned the lead to 43-15.
Michigan built a 30-point first half cushion before Nebraska ended the blitz, but the Cornhuskers still trailed 49-21 at the break.
NOTES: Michigan was a 71-70 winner when these two teams met about a month ago in Lincoln, with Wolverines freshman PG Derrick Walton Jr. going coast to coast for a layup in the closing seconds. … Nebraska’s leading scorer is Texas Tech transfer Terran Petteway, a forward who averages 18 points per game and is shooting 46.5 percent from the field. … Michigan was coming off a loss at Indiana that snapped a 10-game winning streak, a run that
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