Michigan-Penn St. Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Having won back-to-back games for the first time this month, Michigan is hoping to add to its momentum before heading into March.
Another matchup with Penn State should certainly help.
Before a potentially difficult stretch to close the regular season, the fourth-ranked Wolverines will try to keep the host Nittany Lions winless in the Big Ten on Wednesday night.
Michigan (23-4, 10-4) had dropped three of four before a 79-71 home victory over Penn State (8-18, 0-14) on Feb. 17. Trey Burke had a season-high 29 points, and Glenn Robinson III scored 21 while helping the Wolverines rally from an early eight-point deficit to record their fifth straight win in the series.
Burke then became the program's seventh sophomore to surpass 1,000 points with 26 in a 71-58 victory over visiting Illinois on Sunday. Once again, Michigan rallied from an early eight-point deficit.
"There's a bounce in our step right now," coach John Beilein said.
The Wolverines will try to keep those good vibes going by earning a fourth straight win at Penn State. A 71-65 victory last March clinched a share of their first Big Ten regular-season title since 1985-86.
Michigan is trying to catch up to conference-leading Indiana in this season's race and it will host the top-ranked Hoosiers in the regular-season finale March 10. The Wolverines will also play No. 9 Michigan State at home Sunday and hit the road again, where they've lost three straight, to face Purdue next Wednesday.
Beilein said his team needs all the help it can get.
"There are some guys that need to step up for us to continue in the direction we want to go," he said.
Michigan will try to get ready for the stretch run against a Nittany Lions team that secured a program-worst start to Big Ten play with the loss to the Wolverines. Penn State, though, has dropped its past three games by single digits.
After falling to Michigan, the Nittany Lions couldn't complete a rally from a nine-point halftime deficit in a 64-59 defeat at Illinois on Thursday. They pulled to within a point twice in the second half but could never take the lead.
"We just have to continue working hard every day," forward Sasa Borovnjak said Tuesday. "The results might show how hard we work and how much we've improved over the past couple of months."
Jermaine Marshall had a team-leading 20 points for his best scoring performance since a career-high 29 against Michigan State on Jan. 16. Leading scorer D.J. Newbill's shooting struggles, though, continued as he missed 10 of 14 attempts and finished with 12 points.
Newbill, averaging 15.8 points, scored 11 on 4-of-12 shooting at Michigan while Marshall and Borovnjak shared the team lead with 17 points.
Borovnjak is averaging 16.0 points on 20-of-27 shooting (74.1 percent) over the last three games after averaging 6.3 and 42.9 in his first 11 Big Ten contests.
"Sasa's doing great. The light has come on," coach Patrick Chambers said. "I hope he keeps it going."
Michigan is 18-3 against Penn State since 2001-02, with eight wins in the past 10 road matchups.
Updated February 26, 2013