to play football, not to play trumpet
hoops game recaps
Caris LeVert recorded the fourth triple-double in program history. [Fuller]
Caris LeVert's most memorable play of the evening didn't even count towards the fourth triple-double in Michigan basketball history.
LeVert finished with 13 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists, but his steal and Gumby-like save in the second half stood out as the highlight in a game Michigan controlled from start to finish. Duncan Robinson made a sizable contribution to that assist total, knocking down three of his six first-half triples off LeVert passes.
Robinson scored all 18 of his game-high points in the first half. He also scored them all from the same location:
Does he have a favorite spot? pic.twitter.com/LXPZC8duXb
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) December 16, 2015
When Northern Kentucky reconfigured their defense to prevent Robinson from getting the ball in the second half, the rest of Michigan's offense benefited, especially LeVert and Derrick Walton. Walton returned from his ankle injury, got the start, and looked healthy—save for a brief scare after a hard foul in the second half—in a 16-point effort.
Outside of LeVert making history, Robinson raining threes, and Walton looking spry, the major intrigue from this game came from how John Beilein handled the rotation. (Alright, and the defense once again being not-so-good, but let's leave that for another day.) LeVert, Robinson, Walton, and Zak Irvin all played 34 minutes or more, while Ricky Doyle (23) and Mark Donnal (14) took up nearly all the minutes at the five; Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (11) was the only non-center backup to see anything approaching significant time. Donnal had easily his best performance of the year, netting his season-high 11th point on the pick-and-roll to give LeVert his triple-double.
Andrew Dakich entered in time to run out the clock, and he did so with aplomb.
Tonight's bad poetry:
Duncan made a three.
Duncan made another three.
I need four more lines.
The excuses don't quite cut it.
Yes, Michigan didn't have their starting point guard, Yes, they went on the road against a good SMU squad, and couldn't fly to Dallas until this morning. Yes, they're young and inexperienced. Yes, Caris LeVert had an uncharacteristically awful game.
The Mustangs managed to weather the loss of one of their key players, though, flourishing despite the departure of Markus Kennedy in the opening minute. The issues that have plagued Michigan's defense all season came to the fore tonight; SMU got dunk after dunk after dunk created by all-too-easy dribble penetration; the Mustangs didn't miss often, but when they did, they were more likely than not to grab the rebound; they rained in 8-of-15 threes on more open looks created by shoddy perimeter defense.
Walton's absence doesn't explain all of that. Youth only goes so far. Same for weather-impacted travel plans.
LeVert went 1-for-13 tonight. Without him carrying the load, only Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson could crack double-digit points. Even with the extenuating circumstances taken into account, Michigan remains too reliant on one player to carry the load on one end, and they're entirely too lost on the other to make up for it.
Michigan's next four opponents, each ranked worse than 250th on KenPom, all come to Crisler. That's welcome news for a team that needs to do quite a bit of tuning up before they're ready to take on the Big Ten.
Duncan Robinson (19 points) and Caris LeVert (28) led the onslaught. [Barron]
There once was a game in Tree City
For the foe we only felt pity
The home team scored lots
The road team did not
While you watched football on TV
[File photo: Eric Upchurch]
Caris LeVert's 11 first-half points were easy to overlook during a spectacular Michigan barrage that featured 11 three-pointers.
When the barrage abated, and a persistent Texas squad nearly knottedd up the score, LeVert's eight second-half points kept the Wolverines out in front. Tasked with taking control of the offense with the Longhorns giving chace, LeVert snaked through defenders to find all manner of ways to create a layup.
The supporting cast is still setting into shape; it did just enough tonight. Duncan Robinson hit 4/5 three-pointers. Zak Irvin went 5/8 for 13 points. Derrick Walton stuffed the stat sheet (13-5-7) and drew a pivotal charge on Isaiah Taylor down the stretch. Moe Wagner looked like he may quickly become the team's best center, putting up six and four in the first half before foul trouble limited him in the second.
The team defense still wasn't good. Texas had plenty of chances to make this a real game but an 8/19 mark from the free-throw line made up the difference and then some. Big man Cameron Ridley was perfect from the field but only took five shots in 28 minutes; not to sound like Seth Davis calling a Michigan game, but he could've used a few more post touches.
Michigan is going to get in some shootouts this year. They're ready for them on one end. On the other, we'll have to wait and see.
Brian's preview is here. Go Blue.
Moe Wagner may be the #2 center. [File photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Moe Wagner scored 19 points on 8/9 shooting. The German freshman hit all manner of up-and-under layups, fought through contact for and-ones, and even knocked down his only three-point attempt. His only miss came on, of all things, a botched dunk.
Yes, Michigan had a good night.
Eleven Wolverines tallied points against a hapless Charlotte squad, with Caris Levert, Zak Irvin, and Aubrey Dawkins joining Wagner in double figures. A day after Michigan couldn't find their range against UConn, they sniped 12/23 three-pointers, taking full advantage when the 49ers played a soft 2-3 zone.
By the time Mark Donnal found his way off the bench to score seven points, including a triple to get M to the century mark, Seth Davis was scolding viewers for still watching.
We'll learn much more from Michigan's consolation contest against Texas tomorrow (7 pm, AXS TV) than anything we saw tonight. The hope is Wagner's breakout is for real, Irvin continues to settle in, DJ Wilson's threes keep falling, and the Wolverines can come close to replicating this defensive performance against a team with a pulse.