Michigan coasted to a 90-58 win over Detroit on Saturday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.
The Wolverines started slow for the second game in a row, but managed to improve upon their early defensive performance at Texas. Detroit didn’t score before the first media timeout and didn’t make a basket until almost 8 minutes were gone from the game clock.
Eventually the Michigan offense picked up and put together a 19-0 run that featured back-to-back-to-back threes and the game was out of reach in the first half.
Michigan’s offense was slow out of the gate and got sloppy late, but was efficient and balanced for the middle 20 minutes of the game. The Wolverines shot 47% on twos and 48% on threes for a 55% effective field goal percentage. They didn’t turn the ball over and rebounded a third of their missed shots for an impressive 15 second chance points.
Defensively, this was another positive step in the right direction. Many of Detroit’s early turnovers were unforced, but Michigan held the Titans to their worst offensive outing of the season at .76 points per possession. The Michigan defense did a great job of forcing turnovers (30% of possessions) and cleaning up the defensive glass (rebounding 78% of Detroit’s misses), but the Titans were able to get to the free throw line consistently. Detroit attempted 25 free throws 00 17 in the second half — to just 51 field goal attempts.
This was the sort of performance that Michigan needed in a game that it should win comfortably. Early in the season, the Wolverines were struggling in games like this, but they took care of business today despite playing without Moritz Wagner. Michigan has two more buy games left on the non-conference schedule with Alabam A&M on Thursday before facing Jacksonville on December 30th.
- Zavier Simpson: I love how Simpson is playing on both ends of the floor. His confidence is growing offensively and he’s shooting the ball well both off the catch from the perimeter and when he attacks the basket. He had 7 assists to 0 turnovers today and passed the ball well in both the half court and in transition. Defensively, he’s as disruptive as ever but now he’s staying out of foul trouble.
- Jon Teske: Teske got his first career start with Wagner sidelined by a minor ankle injury (that Michigan appears to be in no hurry to rush) and performed very well. He can keep things simple, but effective. Teske sets great screens, rolls well to the hoop, catches drop off passes and crashes around the basket for putbacks and tip ins. None of it is fancy, but it gives Michigan some of that garbage man production that can turn a broken possession into a basket. The 15-foot jumpers from the elbow, I can live without those for right now.
- Charles Matthews: Matthews is nearly unstoppable when he puts his head down and attacks the basket. He missed a few looks early on, but but finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting with =7 rebounds in just 24 minutes. He’s an elite finisher and showed off an array of spin moves, euro steps and strong drives today. Arriving 40 minutes before tip off after spending Friday night in Chicago at his grandmother’s funeral, Matthews was playing with a heavy heart but he was productive. He struggled with his jumper throughout most of the day, but he buried one coming off of a ball screen in the second half after the Titans went under the screen. If he can hit that shot consistently, the sky is the limit.
- Duncan Robinson: Robinson bounced out of his shooting slump with three made triples on four attempts. He’s been significantly more efficient this season shooting the ball in transition so it made sense that got out of the slump with a couple of transition threes along with a wide open one in the half court.
- Jordan Poole: Poole’s good moments are great, but he continues to struggle to link them together consecutively without mistakes. He had a beautiful driving dunk and a transition scoop layup today, but every time he heads back to the bench there’s usually a clear teaching moment from John Beilein. He finished with 12 points off the bench on 5-of-10 (2-4 3pt) shooting with an assist, 3 fouls, a steal and a turnover. Poole’s ability to fill every box on the box score from points to shot attempts to steals to fouls speaks to his style of play right now.
- Eli Brooks: I’m comfortable with Brooks starting at the point guard because I think it gives Michigan a different look, but he has been outplayed by Simpson for a few games now. Brooks hit a three (on three attempts), but seemed a bit more passive offensively especially when he had to drive the lane.
- Isaiah Livers: Livers just needs to see the ball start going in the basket. He was 0-of-3 today and has misses his last 8 three-point attempts. He had a highlight block pinned off the backboard, but his real strength early on in his career has been his ability to crash the offensive glass. Livers grabbed 5 offensive rebounds today — and has grabbed at least one in the last 7 games — and had 3 assists in 20 minutes.
- Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: Days after we praised Abdur-Rahkman for learning to be a player who takes over games for Michigan, he drifted through this one without making much of an impact. Abdur-Rahkman played 26 minutes and scored 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting with 2 assists. He grabbed 6 rebounds and didn’t hurt the Wolverines, but it was a quiet night for the senior guard.
- Austin Davis: Five fouls in 7 minutes speaks to why Davis has struggled to see the floor much this season. The game is moving a bit too quickly for him, but he did manage a pair of baskets including a nice layup off of a high-low set with Isaiah Livers.
- Ibi Watson: Watson continued to play the backup minutes at the two and was productive off the bench with 7 points, two assists and two steals in 10 minutes. He hit a pair of three-pointers and gave the Wolverines solid minutes.
- Jaaron Simmons: Simmons is running out of time to make his mark and wasn’t able to capitalize on a great opportunity in the second half today. He got extended playing time over the final quarter of the game and missed a couple free throws and struggled to get much going. As Beilein said after the game, “he’s better than he’s playing right now and I have to get that out of him.”