DES MOINES, Iowa – It's hard to understand how stifling Michigan can be on the defensive end until you see it close. Florida's main console Mike White had an incline, but Wolverines was even better than announced in keeping Gators in check in a 64-49 U-M victory.
Michigan jumped out to a 15-6 lead with some great offensive possessions to complement the smothering defense. For their credit, Gators did not fold. They fought back to tie, but the U-M grabbed a four-point lead and never looked back.
White admitted that he was thrilled to be down only four at the break, how many empty belongings they had. But U-M continued to come to them in waves, and it was overwhelming.
"A big factor in playing from behind is that you play the leading ranking efficiency team in the country," White said. "We saw first hand so hard, physically, connected with the defense. They are great.
" I don't want to sit here and say we played badly. We did some good things; just didn't do enough. They guarded at a very high level as they do. We want them the best. "
It started at point guard, where junior Zavier Simpson was his usual relentless self. Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard dished eight helper and will be a good one, but you could see it on his face throughout the game ̵
"I think it was just as disciplined that they were on the defense, set up driving angles, and not let us get our shots easily, good ballistic cover," Nembhard said. defense throughout the game quite consistently. "
There was a moment in the middle of the second half, White added that he understood the enormity of his team's task. A few blocked shots, some transition points and UM pulled away.
" As good as they are defensive, another thing that our guys learn from Michigan – every game can win or lose, we seem to have it, we have a lot to learn from – and with these guys as good as they are defensive, thought I think they were very, very healthy, "s he thought. They do what they do, their roles are very well-defined. I was incredibly impressed. "
Especially with Simpson who played all 40 minutes and did not show any signs of fatigue at all.
" It's hard to understand how well Zavier Simpson is on film, "White said." Incredibly impressed with his toughness, accountability, leadership, the way he bends over his teammates, the way they react. The guy just makes mistakes, he's out to plug away, play the game offensively and defensively … really really good. "
Of all the teams they've been facing this year, he added – a list that includes Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, even Michigan State – UM was among the most impressive.
Wolverines had a couple of dry spells offensive but news flash … most teams do.
White has tried to explain it to his hometown media, apparently, but he re-emphasized it in postgame, it's not a perfect game; it's about being good enough to win on any given day.
Simpson, for one, did not want to hear about the missing opportunities of offense. "" We won, "he said." That's all I care about. " 19659002] White would have loved to say the same.
"We talked in the preamble and said there will be some dry stretches in this game. I just tell you, and I know you won't hear it, "he said." They are great and talking to my team, just as you are incredibly defensive, teams will go through dry spells. I do not know outside of Kentucky that we have seen a team that is this sound.
"We must keep calm and continue to stop, keep the course, and we did not do very well."
Michigan was the reason for that, and even the Gators players gave their respect.
"I just thought they were super disruptive at the defensive end, and they really played their principles," said Jalen Hudson. "It was hard for us to get into the chain and shake them at all. You need to credit them for their defense tonight.
" I can see why they are No. 1 in college basketball for defense. They were super regulars. All we tried to run, or the mistakes they made, they had to cover them so quickly and they had the seven-footers [Jon Teske]. Even when you came in paint it was difficult and he blocked them. And on the perimeter we had to take late shots, which also changed our shots. "
It led them to hit a bit down the stretch, admitted White. He summarized it in a concise phrase."
"They will do it for you," he said. 16 in Anaheim … and maybe beyond.