It wasn’t necessarily pretty but it was certainly convincing as Michigan rolled over South Carolina Upstate for their first win of the 2010-11 season. Michigan outscored the Spartans 66-35 in a 58 possession game. There were ugly stretches, including a lengthy first half drought, but the outcome of the game was never in question after Michigan jumped out to a 24-5 lead. The star of the contest was obvious: freshman wing Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting in just 25 minutes.
The four factors tell the whole story as Michigan outshot and outrebounded USC Upstate while attempting almost twice as many free throws. To put Michigan’s rebounding into context, they only posted an offensive rebounding percentage this high (39.6%) in five games last season. Turnovers were a wash, which was a bit surprising given each team’s history (or lack thereof) of taking care of the ball. Michigan looked surprisingly shaky holding onto the ball at times, but several turnovers came late in the contest when things became increasingly sloppy overall.
Darius Morris played very well again, adding 17 points on 10 shots, while Zack Novak and Stu Douglass were both solid. One major concern watching tonight’s game was that Michigan has very few options for interior scoring. It wasn’t until 11:45 in the second half that one of Michigan’s three centers put a notch in the scoring column, via a Blake McLimans free throw. Morgan, McLimans, and Horford combined for 10 points and 12 rebounds when all was said and done but were only 2 of 6 from the field.
USC Upstate is not a good team. It remains to be seen just how bad of a team they are, but at the very least it’s good to see Michigan take care of business in a game they should win. Next up is Bowling Green, a team that dropped their season opener on the road to Howard. Player bullets after the jump.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: It’s clear that Hardaway loves the three point shot (3-8 3fg) and his release is smooth and quick. Tonight Hardaway was no one trick pony, he also got to the line (6 FTA), played well in transition (coast to coast layup), and showed off his athleticism with a nice dunk.
- Zack Novak: 7 points, 8 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and no turnovers. That’s the kind of all around performance that Michigan needs out of Novak at the two. He rebounded extremely well, had a two handed slam, blocked a shot, had a nice drop off pass in transition. It’s tough to find many complaints with Novak’s game tonight.
- Darius Morris: 17 points, 4 assists and most impressively 7 of 10 shooting. Morris started out very hot and took advantage when the quality of play deteriorated late. Morris has been aggressive in the offense and seems to be much more comfortable but still has the tendency to over-dribble from time to time and get himself into trouble (3 TO). I’m also a bit worried that he’ll have a harder time getting some of his shots off against bigger and more athletic competition.
- Stu Douglass: 8 points on 3 of 5 (2-4 3pt) in 21 minutes is a solid night for Stu. He wasn’t called on to do too much but he hit half his threes while playing a bit of the one and the two.
- Evan Smotrycz: It certainly wasn’t Evan’s best game, he looked shaky with the ball in his hands and was 1 of 6 from the field. To his credit, he did have a basket late on a nice backdoor cut. He also had a few rough possessions on the defensive end when he was late on a few close outs leading to open USC Upstate shots. It’s his first college game but there’s going to be a bit of a transition here.
- Matt Vogrich: Vogrich had a rough day shooting (1 of 5) and played just 13 minutes while grabbing three rebounds. He played most of his minutes backing up Hardaway at the three but, with Hardaway’s strong play, it’s tough to decipher what his role will be as the season progresses.
- Blake McLimans: Blake has yet to find the range on his outside shot (0-2 today) but he did have a couple nice blocks. He’s really the only shot blocking presence on the roster but his tendency to go for the block hurts his defensive rebounding. He did grab a pair of offensive rebounds including a tip out on a missed free throw.
- Jordan Morgan: It wasn’t double digit rebounds but Morgan continues to be solid on the glass. He grabbed six rebounds and added four points.
- Colton Christian: Christian looks shaky with the ball in his hands but did grab four rebounds and looked active on the defensive end. It certainly seems like there’s a role on this team as a defensive stopper for him right now.
- Jon Horford: It looks like Beilein is going to play Horford and I think that’s a good decision. All three centers are going to have their ups and downs and there’s no point to limit your options. Horford grabbed four rebounds (2 off.) and added four points.
- Note: The Detroit News’ Rod Beard also reported that Carlton Brundidge plans to sign his LOI on Monday.