Final Score: Michigan 80, Arkansas 67
Twitter recap: Unlikely assassin (Haydar) goes off for Hogs, but UM holds BJ Young to lowest scoring total of season. All 5 UM starters in double figures.
Statistical significance. The last time Michigan started 9-0 (1988-89), the Wolverines took home the national championship at season’s end. This year’s crew certainly has the personnel to do the same, especially if UM continues to shut down the opponent’s top weapon as it did B.J. Young on Saturday. The Wolverines win was head coach John Beilein’s 100th at the school.
Burke outshines Young. Not only was Trey Burke an engine on offense (16 points, 7 assists), the sophomore star did perhaps his best work on defense. Burke clamped down BJ Young, holding the preseason SEC player of the year to his lowest scoring output of the season (9 points). A scoring ace who certainly isn’t gun shy with the ball in his hands (he averages 17 field goal attempts per game), Young launched only ten shots on Saturday and had to work hard to free Michigan’s swarming, ‘ten eyes on ball’ defense. Burke’s two were the most important.
Pulling away late. The Wolverines had a difficult time shaking the Hogs, who never let led in the game but got to as close as one with just over eight minutes to play. With Young struggling to get good looks, Arkansas leaned on its frontcourt leader—Marshawn Powell—to handle the scoring. Powell chipped in 18 points, and the Hogs got unexpected contributions from Kikko Haydar (13 points, 4-5 3FG) and Rickey Scott (10 points) off the bench. Haydar, by coach Beilein’s own admission, wasn’t even on Michigan’s scouting report.
One-sided officiating? Arkansas only got to the free throw line four times on the afternoon despite attacking the hoop fairly regularly. The Razorbacks took 26 shots in the paint and 44 from 2-point range in all. Michigan was whistled for only eight fouls despite engaging in a rough-and-tumble battle on the boards from the opening tip. For Arkansas to only attempt four free throws in a game that wasn’t light on contact is suspect to say the least.
Michigan’s balance shows again. All five starters scored at least 12 points apiece in yet another even effort by one of college basketball’s most balanced teams. The team presence was most felt, however, on the defensive end, where the Wolverines smothered and stymied Young from the get-go. Mitch McGary was a boon on the glass off the bench while Jon Horford—brother of former UM commit and Gator star, Al—provided a lift on the defensive end.
Ruling the boards. Michigan nearly doubled up Arkansas on the glass (39-20). Some of that was related to the tendencies of the whistles. But most of that belongs to just how rugged Michigan is inside. Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.—both guards—may be the team’s two best players, but Jordan Morgan is a load in the middle (an active rebounder and efficient scorer on the block) and super frosh Glenn Robinson has emerged as an inside-out, dual-threat.