Juwan Howard, Fred Hoiberg react to Michigan's 85-79 win over Nebraska


Michigan avoided a major scare at home from Nebraska, as the Wolverines (11-8, 5-4) scored the game's final six points in the final 1:20 for an 85-79 victory. Hunter Dickinson was virtually unstoppable, scoring 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. It marked a bounce back performance for Juwan Howard's team after Saturday's loss at Michigan State, as the Wolverines have won four-of-five overall since their three-game losing streak.

Michigan found itself trailing the Huskers 44-37 at the end of the first half. However, it turned on the jets quickly coming out of the locker room, getting out to a 21-6 run and taking an eight-point lead at 58-50 with just over 12 and a half minutes to go. Nebraska (6-17, 0-11) wasn't done though. The Huskers would go on a 23-8 run to take a seven-point lead at 73-66 with just over six minutes to go. That's when things went bad for Nebraska.

Nebraska's Keisei Tominaga thought he got all ball, and replay revealed he was right, seemingly blocking the shot of Dickinson. Tominaga would to mid-court with outstretched hands in disbelief. A technical foul was called, with Eli Brooks (20 points on 6-of-11 shooting) hitting both technical free-throws. Dickinson would hit his two from the foul, giving the Wolverines a four-point possession. That was the turning point.

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After the game, Howard took the podium and broke down the game. Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg did not hold a press conference due to travel issues, but spoke to the Husker Sports Radio Network. Below is what they had to say, courtesy of The Michigan Insider and Husker247.

"I’ll put it like this: I love how he responded with the challenge. Hunter, he’s a special young man that’s really bought into coaching and growing to become an elite ballplayer. Last year, he really showed the country that he’s one of the best bigs in college basketball. At times, when you have early success, as a coach you sit back and see how the player will respond in his second year. Whether a guy decides, you know what, second year, I'll arrive and stop working. Or can I find areas to improve? Hunter chose the second option.

"By being on the bench, it showed a sign of growth. There are times when you’re sitting over there for 15 minutes, probably thinking of so many different things on your mind — why the second foul was called on me, pointing the finger and accusing the referee. … In the second half, he was challenged and he stepped up and became that force, became that best player, became that No. 1 option, became that All American that is going to lead his team. And he led us. He put us on his back, and we followed. "

"I think if you put him back out there with 15 minutes to go, and you got two fouls, and he's big, guys are going to attack him. Guys are gonna go downhill and try to finish at the paint. He's also a guy you throw the ball into, a guy is honestly gonna try to take a flopping charge, because he backs down someone in the post, that’s setting up for possibly an offensive foul, which can give you a third foul."

"Honestly, I think he should have been at the free-throw line more than six times because of the way that he sometimes gets beat on the arm, guys hitting him on an elbow, guys hitting him underneath in the hip area. But I'm not here to complain about the referees. It's tough sometimes to ref a game versus a guy who’s 7-foot-2. At times, refs have different angles of how they’re trying to see. Some of them are looking at the ball, some of them are looking at the feet, some are looking at other guys off the ball. I'll tip my hat to referees. It's a job I do not want, that I'm not good at. Much respect to refs."

"Yes. Yes I was. First half we had some defensive breakdowns where there were some blow-bys. We didn't do a good job of containing the dribble. Guys were making direct drives to the paint, creating scoring opportunities for themselves. … We’ve got to do a better job containing the dribble. We did a much better job after we talked about it at halftime."

ON WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR THE TEAM TO PLAY A FULL 40 MINUTES:

"Hunter was out of the game in the first [half], only played five minutes in the first half. If we had Hunter out there where he wasn't in foul trouble, I think it would have been a different sort of — our energy would be a lot different, disposition will be a lot different. Very challenging to have your best player sitting over there for 15 minutes — a long, extended 15 minutes.

"Give credit to our guys. They were clawing, competing. Yeah, there was times when the ball didn’t go in the basket for us or we didn’t get the stop we needed. But I respect and I really appreciate how our guys really worked despite have our best playing sitting on the bench."

"Our guys understand what we're dealing with. They understand that this is a very competitive conference and you got to go out there and compete every game. There's no easy matchups. You have well-coached teams in this league, coaches that prepared their players to know that. The conference is athletic, tough, physical, have bigs, have shooting. Some of our guys are learning that, especially the new guys."

ON JACE HOWARD TAKING A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN HUDDLES TO MOTIVATE THE TEAM:

"It was great. You know, sometimes you get guys that don’t play many minutes, there'll be afraid to speak up, be afraid to hold guys accountable because they feel they don't have a voice on the team or guys, don't respect them.

"I admire and respect a guy who is putting in all the work in practice, and teammates respect him, and take what he says taking to heart. They don't take it personal. Shows that he's not afraid to speak up when a team needs sometimes a different voice than a coach, and I really respect guys who don’t mind getting out of their shell and doing what they can to help serve the team. And that's what a young man that's growing before our eyes has become: a leader for this group."

"We wish him well. What a wonderful kid, comes from a great family. Mom and dad, beautiful people. Zeb, great person. He believes that there's a situation out there that's better for him. Wish him well, and I have nothing 110% support [for him]. And he needs me for anything, he knows it, I’m here for him."

"We played a lot of good basketball out there and I'm sick for our guys. We lost that game at the beginning of the second half. We just did not have that same passion and energy that I thought we had in the entire first 20 minutes."

ON THE KESEI TOMINAGA TECHNICAL FOUL, FOUR-POINT POSSESSION FOR MICHIGAN:

"We had the unfortunate technical call, which I thought they had a similar situation in the first half running down the court and it wasn't called. So, tough situation, but our guys fought their hearts out for about the fourth straight game. They're continuing to battle and give us a chance. We're going to get one of these soon."

"Again, the beginning of the second half, that's where we lost that game. You've got to have 40 minutes of consistent basketball ... And then our guys I kind of rolled with down the stretch, they got a little tired out there, digging ourselves out of that hole. But it's who I rolled with. It's who I felt gave us the best chance to win."

ON MOVING FORWARD:

"We're going to start winning if we continue to play like this. Trey (McGowens) was a big lift I think for our guys to get him back out there (in recent games). Obviously he's still working his way into shape and timing and that type of thing. But guys keep fighting. And if you see our practices and see our shootarounds, I know that doesn't mean anything, but our guys continue to come into work and battle.

"They're not running away from this thing. They're going to go out there and give us a chance to win. We just need to find a way, I know I say this a lot, to get over the hump, and find a way to get some confidence."