Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Novak lifts Michigan past Penn State

ANN ARBOR-- With a demanding schedule ahead, the notion of Michigan losing its second Big Ten home game in five days didn't sit well.

Twenty minutes of solid play against Penn State took care of that.

Zack Novak scored all 15 of his points after halftime, and Darius Morris had a team-high 20 points as the Wolverines held off the Nittany Lions 76-69 Sunday afternoon.

Novak, who hit five of his six second-half field-goal attempts, connected on a 3-pointer with 1:44 remaining, giving the Wolverines (11-3, 1-1) a four-point lead.

Morris made four free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. But it was Novak's second-half offensive surge that sparked Michigan most. Novak, who didn't attempt a shot in the opening 20 minutes, was the difference for Michigan, which trailed by as many as nine and by five at halftime.

"It was really crucial for [Novak] to find his offensive touch," Morris said. "He really did that in the second half -- he really came up big."

Penn State (8-5, 1-1) got 31 points from Talor Battle, but couldn't come back after Michigan sophomore Matt Vogrich converted on a 3-point play with 3:23 remaining.

The shot gave the Wolverines a 63-61 lead right after Battle had made a pair of free throws to put Penn State up by one. The Nittany Lions were looking to win their second straight Big Ten road game for the first time in three seasons.

"We just didn't make the plays down the stretch defensively to win the game," Battle said.

Jeff Brooks, who scored 16 points, drew the Nittany Lions to within a point before Novak's 3-pointer put Michigan back in control for good.

The Wolverines hit all 14 of their attempts from the line, which capped a half when Michigan shot 60.9 percent from the field and hit 5-of-9 attempts from 3-point range after going 3-for-11 in the first half.

Michigan outscored Penn State 45-33 in the second half.

"To score what we did in the second half is great for us," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "As we develop our defense, we're going to have to score points."

Michigan also had to keep scoring to counter Battle's production. Battle scored 20 points in the first half and finished the game with five 3-pointers.

"We just made some defensive lapses at critical times when it's a possession game that you just can't make," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said.

Michigan took advantage, finally gaining some breathing room after Novak's 3-pointer. The win came after a 23-point home loss to No. 12 Purdue in the Wolverines' Big Ten opener.

The Wolverines face some tough tests in the next 10 days. They play at Wisconsin on Wednesday before returning home for a nonconference game against No. 3 Kansas on Sunday. Then No. 2 Ohio State visits Ann Arbor on Jan. 12.

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