Team 102

Game 14: Alabama A&M at Michigan Recap

Charles Matthews scored 22 points on 9 shot attempts in the first half. Alabama A&M scored 23 points on 24 shot attempts. His teammates added 29 points of their own and the game was settled at the halftime horn.

Alabama A&M rolled out a 2-3 zone and Michigan utilized it for target practice. The Wolverines made 17-of-24 shots in the first half including 8 3-pointers and 14 of the 17 makes were assisted.

The Bulldogs switched to a man-to-man defense in the second half, but not only was it too late it wasn’t any more effective. Michigan scored another 46 points in the second half and walked away with a 50-point win.

The result was to be expected as the Wolverines were playing one of the three worst teams in Division I, but the execution was sharp and a handful of players who needed to see the ball go in the basket had nice performances.

At times it felt like Michigan’s offense was in a walkthrough, but the execution was crisp and the shots were falling all night. Michigan shot 21-of-28 on twos and 15-of-31 on threes for a 74% effective field goal percentage (the best mark of the year against a Division I opponent). About the only thing the Wolverines did poorly was convert at the free throw line (56%).

An impressive 23 of 36 made field goals were assisted — a product of playing heavy minutes against a zone defense — and the Wolverines added 16 fastbreak points in the blowout. In a statistical oddity, all three of Michigan’s point guards went scoreless in the win. They handed out 9 assists but were a combined 0-of-4 from the floor.

Defensively, Michigan held the third-worst offense in Division I to their worst offensive performance of the season.  You can’t fault the Wolverines for their performance, but you can’t take much from it either. The bulldogs turned the ball over 25 times and only made 17 shots and that says just about everything you need to know about their offensive execution.

Michigan has an important lay off over Christmas — after a morning practice tomorrow — and won’t be back in action until December 30th against Jacksonville. That means another game against an over-matched opponent, but I like scheduling another tune-up before Big Ten play after we saw the Wolverines slip in Iowa City last year coming off of a similar break.

Player Bullets:

  • Charles Matthews: Matthews played a flawless nearly flawless 26 minutes, finishing with 31 points on 12-of-15 shooting (10-of-10 on twos) with 4 assists. Matthews even made 5-of-7 free throws in the complete performance. He scored in the mid-range, he attacked the basket and he knocked in a pair of smooth catch-and-shoot corner treys. After the game, Beilein noted that Matthews always has one play where he drives out of control and turns the ball over, but he has to live with it because he brings so much more to the table.
  • Isaiah Livers: It was great to see Livers hit his first look from 3-point range — he had missed his last 8 triples — and he followed it up with a few great passes in the middle of the A&M 2-3 zone. He knocked in another in the second half, but then missed a couple and turned the ball over on an errant entry pass. He had no problem finding the ball late and added a nice score in the post on a turnaround jumper.
  • Duncan Robinson: Robinson committed one of the fouls that Michigan is trying to eliminate from his game early on and he earned himself a quick seat on the bench. When he came back into the game, he found his 3-point stroke and finished 5-of-7 from deep on the night. Robinson is 8 of his last 11 from deep in the previous two games and seems to be pulling his way out of his slump. Some extra time to rest his legs over the holidays should be important heading into the Big Ten play.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-RahkmanAnother Michigan player who had been struggling with his shot a bit, Abdur-Rahkman hit 4-of-5 threes and handed out 5 assists in a lethally efficient 24 minute performance. There was nothing fancy to his performance, but he made the right plays and hit the right shots in a smooth and efficient effort.
  • Jon Teske: Teske had a sloppy turnover early, but connected on a couple of nice hook shots in the lane as he settled into the game. He blocked two shots and looked pretty comfortable out there as Michigan’s starting big man. Of all the preseason questions, Teske’s answer at the backup big man spot is one of the clearest answers heading into league play.
  • Eli BrooksBrooks had 4 assists to no turnovers, but missed his two looks from 3-point range. If Brooks can start hitting that 3-pointer (he’s 9-of-29 on the year) the rest of his offensive game could really open up.
  • Zavier Simpson: I thought Simpson had a couple of great pass ahead looks to trigger fastbreak layups. He missed his only shot of the game (a 3-pointer from the wing) and also turned the ball over a couple times including driving into a charge. It was a quiet performance, but the game didn’t dictate much from him.
  • Austin DavisThe game still looks to be moving a bit too fast for Davis and he struggled to make much of an impact. He got dunked on early in his first half shift and bobbled a pass rolling to the basket in the second. He found his groove a bit late in the game with a putback dunk and a seal and finish.
  • Jordan PooleIf the game is moving too fast for Davis, Poole is moving too fast for the game. He tries to make everything happen right away and it gets him into trouble. He had a few questionable decisions early on in the game, but scored on a beautiful driving layup on a spinning drive from the wing.
  • Ibi Watson: Watson didn’t see the floor in the first half as Poole backed up the two and three, but he saw the floor before Poole in the second half. He knocked in a pair of triples in the second half.
  • Jaaron Simmons: Simmons didn’t see the floor until the 10:57 mark of the second half and immediately turned the ball over trying to throw it into the post to Teske. He just doesn’t look very comfortable on the floor but did have a really fancy touch pass to Austin Davis that almost resulted in a layup.

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