Meet Tim Hardaway Jr. The freshman for the Wolverines and starting shooting guard. Son of former NBA player Tim Hardaway. The lanky freshman was ranked 98th overall coming into college and was not only highly recruited by Michigan. His second college choice was actually Minnesota. So, when Hardaway finally hit the floor of William’s Arena, he felt like he had something to prove.
And he did because when you’re hot, you’re hot. And that’s exactly how the Michigan Wolverines and Tim Hardaway Jr. started. He started five for five from the three-point line. The team started nine for 16 from long distance.
That was the problem for Minnesota for the first half of the game. Tubby Smith believed that his zone defense was going to work against a high shooting three-point team. The Gophers finally fixed their defensive scheme, but it was not enough as Michigan prevailed, 70-63.
Hardaway finished with 22 points, 15 points in the first half. Hardaway wasn’t the only stud for the Wolverines on Saturday. Darius Morris finished above .500 in shooting and 17 points along with seven assists.
Senior guard Blake Hoffarber and junior forward Trevor Mbakwe led the way for the Gophers. Both seemed like the only two on the team that seemed energized throughout the contest, and they each had 18 points. Hoffarber played all but one minute for Minnesota and snagged five rebounds and six assists.
Minnesota had the lead going into the final TV timeout Saturday. Up one point, with 3:53 remaining, Minnesota scored their final basket of the night. The momentum quickly turned back to the side of the Wolverines.
Junior Stu Douglass hit the dagger three with a minute and a half remaining in regulation to put Michigan up two. With the shot clock at one, Douglass lofted a three to the hoop and drained it. The Gophers still had a chance, but a misread pass from Hoffarber to Ralph Sampson III caused a turnover.
After the Sampson turnover, the energy in William’s Arena evaporated like the strong bid for an NCAA tournament bid that Minnesota had. Both teams are still currently on the bubble, but neither have a superb chance of getting in.
What’s on deck for both teams? Minnesota heads to Northwestern for its final road Big Ten game. Michigan comes home to Ann Arbor to take on rival Michigan State.