Michigan missed four shots and turned the ball over in its first five possessions on Saturday afternoon. The Wolverines were down 7-0 on their home floor and looked rattled without their primary playmaker Caris LeVert, but it didn’t take long for Michigan to find its three-point stroke. The Wolverines scored 49 points in the remaining 28 possessions of the half and blew the game open by making 10 of their next 13 three-point attempts. Michigan led by 21 points at half time and coasted to an easy 79-56 victory.
It Was Over When
Mark Donnal finished the first half on a personal 6-2 run to put Michigan up by 21 at the break. The Wolverines slammed the door shut and left little room for doubt with a massive half time lead. Donnal managed to build off of his 26-point showing at Illinois and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in the win as he continued to run the floor hard and catch and finish around the basket.
Player of the Game: Zak Irvin
Zak Irvin was Michigan’s primary creator last season after Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton’s seasons were cut short due to injury and while it took him some time to grow into the role then, he had no problem rediscovering his comfort in the drivers’ seat. Irvin finished with 16 points and seven assists and made a season-high four three-pointers on the night.
Stat of the Game: Three-Point Shooting
Michigan made 10-of-15 threes in the first half and scored its first 15 points via the three-point shot. The Wolverines finished the game making 14-of-25 three-point attempts and tallied a 73% effective field goal percentage.
Unsung Hero: Andrew Dakich
Derrick Walton had his first three shots blocked and looked completely out of sorts, leaving John Beilein with no choice but to go to his bench. Beilein replaced Walton, the player most would expect to assume the majority of Caris LeVert’s duties, with walk-on Andrew Dakich. Dakich was up to the challenge and spurred a massive Michigan run. The Wolverines outscored Penn State by 19 points during the eight minutes that Dakich was on the floor in the first half and the rest was history.
Room for Improvement: Health
Michigan played great basketball without Caris LeVert on Saturday, but there’s little question that they’ll need the All-Big Ten caliber guard in the future. John Beilein is expected to address LeVert’s status in the post-game, but the pregame statement reported that LeVert was day-to-day with a lower left leg injury.