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Insider

F Morgan displays on-court maturity

2/19/2012

In practice this week, redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan told teammate Blake McLimans that given the chance against Ohio State, he would dunk left-handed.

McLimans didn't believe the right-handed forward, who has been known more for his struggles against Jared Sullinger than his prowess in the post.

But then, on Saturday in No. 19 Michigan basketball's 56-51 win over the sixth-ranked Buckeyes, Morgan flew down the floor in transition and brought the Crisler Center to its feet with his left-handed tomahawk dunk.

"I had to show him," Morgan said with a smile.

It was just two of Morgan's 11 points that helped him finish with his first double-double of the season (11 points, 11 rebounds), but more important than the stats was the apparent attitude of Morgan on the floor.

"He realized that what was important was when he was in the game to run the floor hard, he got those dunks, he sprinted, he was beating everybody down the court, box out Sullinger, get rebounds, he had a double-double, played tough 'D' in the post," senior guard Stu Douglass said. "That was something he wouldn’t have done last year and a lot of games he wouldn't have done this year early on."

The on-court maturity was a new side of Morgan that hasn't been seen consistently this season.

And it wasn't just Douglass who noticed. Senior guard Zack Novak said Morgan played "like a man."

"To have a guy like that, a guy who's probably the craziest person I’ve ever met, that means a lot," Morgan said of Novak.

Morgan matched up with one the country's best big man most of the night. And, as expected, Sullinger got his. He put up 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but Morgan made Sullinger fight for every inch in the post and every fingertip on the glass.

Whether he played like a man will be Michigan coach John Beilein's call, but it's unarguable that the forward showed a matured attitude and rounded play that hasn’t been seen much this season -- and against a potential player of the year finalist nonetheless.

"All this experience he has gained because he has been in the lineup from day one," Beilein said. "As a result, [he] has the ups and downs and you have to be able to deal with them. ... This second semester rather than first semester he has had a purpose and a plan in practice that really helped him grow."