Another weekend with high-profile on-campus visitors, plus a look at Michigan's offensive line recruiting under Ed Warinner
The last time Michigan faced Maryland in Crisler was MLK Day of 2018. You know, the one when Michigan went cold in the first half, scrapped back from a double-digit deficit to open up one of their own on a spate of Moritz Wagner threes, and lost the lead with a few seconds left to set up the long pass to Abdur-Rahkman, the trip by Bruno Fernando, and two ice cold free throws to end it. You remember.
Both of Michigan's heroes from that game were in the building today for a very different Michigan team, and a script that at times felt all too familiar.
Recently ejected John Beilein's squad came out in the first half looking more like the killers who left November covered in the viscera of Nova, UNC, and Purdue, and less like the guys who left State College this week with faces covered in frying pan marks. As they've done all season, the defense clamped down, forcing PG Anthony Cowan to give up the ball, forcing the Terps into a slew of turnovers, and frustrating UMD bigs Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith into a miserable 2/11 in the first half. With their top options not producing Maryland tried to go to their relatively low-usage wings and the wheels came off: SG Eric Ayala missed all seven shots (five from distance) he took in this game, and Darryl Morsell coughed up four turnovers.
Much of that was thanks to Wagner's heir, Jon Teske, who was as delightful on the defensive end in this game as he wasn't offensively. We'll start with the defensive job: after getting double help on Fernando for Maryland's first possession Teske went to work alone, absorbing Fernando's best shoulders and lean-ins, and anticipating every other post move. Iggy Brazdeikis was brilliant on the boards against a tough customer in Jalen Smith, and the rest of the pests helping Michigan combine for seven steals. Maryland did the rest themselves, turning the ball over 13 times in the game's first 20 minutes (they would finish with 16). With the set shooting off, the Wolverines were able to score mostly on the transition opportunities the Terp turnovers provided.
Like this one. [Campredon from the magic cam]
Zavier Simpson's active work came at a cost. Trying one of his sneaky grabs on Cowan when running off a screen, X picked up his second foul with over six minutes left in the first half, triggering the Beilein autobench for Michigan's minutes leader. In his stead we were treated to our first extended minutes for David DeJulius. The freshman looked more comfortable than in any of his previous outings, scoring on a Simponesque 3 o'clock hook and forcing a UMD offensive foul off the ball. But DeJulius's contributions were offset by the defensive drop-off, as Maryland finally managed to get a couple of their own deadly freshman shooters clean looks. DeJulius would finish with 2 points on 2.5 shot equivalents and a steal. Simpson would finish with 12 points, a 163 ORtg, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two fouls.
Beilein said DeJulius is Michigan's backup point guard now. [Campredon]
As they did last year in both games against Turgeon's young team, the Michigan offense established itself with drives and kicks to create open three point attempts. But those kickouts often went to Teske, who was almost as off the mark this afternoon as announcer Tim Brando's music references. As Teske—whom Brando was calling "Testie" for some reason—opened at 0-4, 0-5, 0-6 from three, it was hard not to glance over at Wagner and think about a time when Turgeon threw up his hands in the Crisler Center media room and admitted "They're IMPOSSIBLE to guard." A dominant first half ended 27-18, but that felt like like a wasted chance to double up on the Terps, and Michigan's 3/15 mark from outside the arc was the glaring reason.
Teske finally got his first points in the second half on a dunk set up by X, who beat Cowan off the dribble then reached around Cowan's help, one of the most gorgeous assists of the year (though Simpson would top it later).
By then, however, things were getting tight. Early in the second half UMD's offense finally woke up, with Cowan sinking a pair of unassisted NBA three-pointers and Fernando surging. Michigan countered with Good Charles Matthews, whose signature falling J was only the most noticeable contribution. Michigan found extra possessions by Matthews sneaking in for a pair of running offensive rebounds under the basket, and covered Cowan by switching Matthews on him. Cowan and Fernando combined to go 5/5—all at the rim or three-pointers—before the under 12 timeout, but thanks to Matthews only managed to cut one point off the lead.
Coming out of the under 12 timeout Brandon Johns was inserted for Teske and Michigan picked up three quick defensive fouls on the same trip. Maryland trimmed the lead to 38-32 and Teske immediately returned. Despite drawing a difficult defensive matchup in long PF/C Jalen Smith, Brazdeikis did much of Michigan's offensive work in addition to the boards, sinking three timely three-pointers and adding a pair of assists off his drives.
THIS time I'm sure it will…drurrr. [Campredon]
By the midpoint of the second half it was a game again. Maryland got the score to 42-39 when Poole missed a stepback three, and bench wing Aaron Wiggins sunk his response. Teske missed his sixth three-point attempt on the ensuing drive, dropping Michigan to 4/21 from the arc. Michigan fans had a momentary panic as Anthony Cowan got a clean look off a high ball screen and put what looked like a tie ballgame into the air. Instead it went off the foot, Livers moved the rebound upcourt, and Poole drove end-to-end, undressing a lone Wiggins for an important layup. Following a missed layup by Wiggins, Simpson found acres of space with a simple jab and nailed an NBA three, forcing Turgeon to call a timeout.
Michigan ended it with a couple of nifty assists. Matthews turned down an open-ish three, drove inside the foul line, faked a kickout, and Fernando bit to leave Teske open for a dunk. Then Simpson topped it, driving under the basket and spinning around like a lost Spike Albrecht, until Teske slipped behind the bewildered Terp and X put a no-look pass into…oh, just watch it:
UMD started crashing the boards and was rewarded with a boatload of extra possessions in the waning minutes, made all the more excruciating by Brando still trying very hard to fit the game's narrative to "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Before Brando could connect them, Teske *FINALLY* nailed a three-pointer, putting Michigan up 57-46. Simpson punctuated it with his signature hook to put us into Kenpom time, with Turgeon electing not to draw it out with fouls. Wagner clapped in that Teutonic Muppet way he does, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman stared cooly, and the band played Mo Bamba over an important Big Ten victory.
[Box Score after the JUMP]