Rapid Recap: Michigan 72, Northwestern 70


Gabe Bider/The Daily Northwestern

Boo Buie brings the ball up the court. Buie had 13 points in Northwestern’s narrow loss to Michigan.

Patrick Andres, Sports Editor

Northwestern left the arctic confines of Evanston for tropical, 21-degree Ann Arbor, Mich. Wednesday, seeking a bounce-back win over Michigan in a down year for Juwan Howard’s Wolverines.

The Wildcats rallied from a double-digit deficit, but it wasn’t to be, as Michigan pulled out a 72-70 win that helped resuscitate its quest to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

NU got off to an inauspicious start, as junior forward Robbie Beran’s errant pass became a three from Michigan guard-forward Caleb Houstan 1:10 into the contest. The Cats rallied to tie the game at seven, turning afterward to one of their best offensive assets in redshirt junior center Ryan Young. This resulted in seven early points for the big man and a 17-16 NU lead.

The Wolverines, despite racking up seven team fouls in a little over 12 minutes of game action, struck back and took a 22-19 advantage at the under-eight media timeout. The Cats went several minutes without scoring before senior forward Pete Nance canned a jumper with 4:50 left in the half, but Michigan guard Eli Brooks countered with a three on the next possession to put the Wolverines up by six.

Despite a couple late NU baskets, including a Beran three and junior guard Boo Buie’s basket in the closing seconds, Michigan took a 34-31 advantage into intermission.

The Cats showed signs of inching closer to begin the second half, with redshirt junior guard Chase Audige notching his first field goal of the evening to bring the Cats within one. The Wolverines embarked on a lightning-quick 6-0 run, though, and extended their lead to 48-37 at the under-16.

NU woke up with just under 14 minutes to go, getting a 6-0 run as Buie and Audige tallied three points apiece. Freshman guard Julian Roper II – a Detroit native – sank a layup with 12:03 left to narrow Michigan’s lead to 51-48. Senior guard Ryan Greer nailed a three with 10:06 to play to tie it at 51, and hit another one to give the Cats a 56-55 lead heading into the under-eight.

After Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson picked up his fourth foul, Nance hit two free throws to give the Cats a three-point lead. NU stretched its run to 25-7 before Michigan coach Juwan Howard called timeout with 5:03 on the clock.

Wolverines guard Devonte Jones responded with a three-pointer to narrow the NU lead to two, and forward Moussa Diabate followed with a dunk to tie it. Dickinson fouled out with 2:29 to play, and Young hit a pair of free throws to give the Cats a 64-62 lead. Michigan forward Terrance Williams II replied with a three-pointer to hand the lead back to the Wolverines. After a Nance free throw, Houstan buried a clutch three.

A Buie three-pointer brought NU back within two late, and the Cats had one final shot at the Wolverines trailing by three with 12.4 seconds to go. Michigan fouled Nance and he missed two free throws, sealing another close NU loss.


  • Big is beautiful early for both teams

Young has driven much of the Cats’ 2022 success, and his post presence kept NU solvent in the first half. He dropped 10 points in 12 first half minutes, including his first three-pointer since Jan. 7, 2021 against Illinois – just the fifth of his Cats career. The Wolverines used size as an answer, getting six points in the first half from fellow seven-footer Dickinson.

  • Sloppiness afflicts Northwestern

NU was careless with the basketball in the first half; after Beran’s early mishap, it turned the ball over twice more before Michigan gave it up once. It wasn’t just turnovers, though: the Cats continued their recent pattern of poor shot selection. Buie, Young and Roper II also incurred multiple fouls in the first half. 

  • Wildcats, Michigan trade Lazarus acts

NU’s raison d’être in recent years has been its frustrating inability to close out games. Tonight, the Cats turned the tables on the Wolverines as they blew a late lead. NU, true to form, blew its seven-point advantage as well, showcasing the tendency that has haunted coach Chris Collins since the 2017 NCAA Tournament run.

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Twitter: @pandres2001