STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State fans booed Michigan's Darius Morris almost every time he touched the ball in the second half.
But it was Morris who was smiling after the Wolverines overcame two double-digit deficits to beat Penn State 65-62 on Sunday.
The 6-foot-4 guard had a team-high 23 points, and Tim Hardaway, Jr., scored all 13 of his points in the second half to help the Wolverines rally from an 11-point deficit in the first half and a 10-point deficit with 8:15 left.
"We lost a little focus, but we ended up just fighting through all that and making plays when we had to," Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Talor Battle (31 points) tried his best to make up for the absence of Penn State leading rebounder Jeff Brooks (dislocated right shoulder), but the Nittany Lions fell short defensively in Michigan's 26-12 run to end the game.
"We played soft, we lacked toughness," Battle said. "We didn't make one stop. We deserved to lose today."
Stu Douglass added 14 points and hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range off the bench for Michigan (14-10, 4-7 Big Ten), which has won three of four following a six-game losing streak. The athletic guard combination of Morris and Hardaway provided the spark in the late-game run to storm past Penn State (12-10, 5-6).
Morris wasn't bothered by the constant booing after jumping off the floor quickly following a hard foul by Andrew Jones, forcing the forward to the bench with his second foul of the first half.
"This is the Big Ten, you've got to expect hits like this," said Morris, who described getting blindsided on the play. "I got hit in the head, I just wanted to show my teammates I was strong."
Morris attacked the bucket with the Nittany Lions' interior defense weakened by Brooks' absence. The forward was also Penn State's second-leading scorer (13.2 points) and top shot-blocker. Michigan took advantage by shooting 56 percent (14-of-25) after halftime.
After trailing by 10 with 8:15 left, Michigan got a jumper in the lane and a layup by Morris to take a 57-53 lead with 3:12 left.
Battle cut into the lead with a three-point play. After Jordan Morgan followed with a dunk, Battle had a turnover on a drive with 1:56 left. Hardaway converted on the break to give the Wolverines a 61-56 cushion with 1:39 left.
Morris hit five foul shots over the final 37 seconds to seal the victory.
Michigan, which doesn't have a senior on its roster, starts three freshmen and a sophomore. Beilein likes the way his young club has grown over Big Ten play, especially Sunday and during the 61-57 road win Jan. 27 at Michigan State.
"I think between the Michigan State game, where you have to make money plays with two minutes in the game, I think that was helpful, and I think it helped in this one too," he said.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.