Michigan 68, Maryland 67

Michigan 68, Maryland 67

Submitted by Seth on January 15th, 2018 at 9:50 PM

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sure.

It was your typical trap game. Playing 51 hours after a season-defining road win in East Lansing, Beilein’s clearly exhausted Michigan squad barely scraped together 20 points in the first half. Then, as trap games go, they erased the 10-point deficit right out of the break, pushed it to a 10-point lead thanks to a little-used freshman sparkplug, lost the 10-point lead, went down by 1 point with 3.5 seconds, and won on two MAAR free throws, just another couple of points in a career that’s seen a thousand of them.

Michigan certainly came out like they’d just played the biggest game of their season two days ago, missing layups, dunks and open threes as the Terps opened a 30-20 deficit at the half. In the frame the Wolverines shot just 31% from the field without getting to the line. MAAR in particular was scuffling,

Maryland, on five days rest, was able to collect a few early buckets in transition and capitalize on more than a few bounces. Michigan played strong defense, forcing the Terps to use the entire shot clock and take five desperation heaves—their eight points off of those low-percentage attempts were most of the 10-point difference in the half.

As Mr. Bridges noted after Saturday’s game, Michigan doesn’t really focus on toughness. Yet for the second time in three days these non-toughness-focusing players erased a halftime deficit out of the break. Zavier Simpson sparked the comeback with a few brilliant series, one a defensive set in which he cut off an Anthony Cowan drive, fought through a screen, knocked the ball out of bounds, assisted on a bad shot, and collected the rebound. Down three Z drove the length of the court, released a floater from the top of the paint, and sank the and-one to tie it 30-30.

Then in came Jordan Poole.

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“Poole’s B1G eFG%: 70.6” —Ace  [Marc-Grégor Campredon]

If the Purdue game was a taste, this was a coming out party for Michigan’s (arguably) most talented freshman. Poole immediately showed his characteristic awareness for the arc. In one sequence he sank a transition three, blocked a Maryland attempt at the same, and got back down to deliver Z’s drive and kick. In minutes Michigan had a 45-41 lead. Later he’d hint at his ceiling as a creator with a beautiful bounce-pass that set up a Teske and-one and pushed Michigan’s lead to 8.

With Z’s backups struggling and Poole hot, Beilein experimented with a MAAR-Poole-Matthews lineup. This didn’t look bad—it got Wagner an open top of the key 3PA (he missed). It also opened up transition lanes for Maryland. A pair of Wagner free throw misses and a small Maryland run on two crazy buckets forced a timeout with the lead cut to four, setting up the ho hum finish.

Under two minutes, MAAR missed a layup and Wagner picked up a foul on a rebound as Maryland cut Michigan’s lead to 2 with 1:19 remaining. On the ensuing possession Matthews fought his way out of a trap, and Michigan passed it around the horn to get MAAR an open three and Michigan a two-point lead. The teams then traded layups, then with 20 seconds left Cowan sank an improbable line drive three, Z missed a pair of free throws, and Kevin Heurter sank one of his signature ladder triples to put Maryland ahead a point with 3.5 seconds left.

In typical trap game fashion, Isaiah Livers hit MAAR on a perfect deep flag route. Abdur-Rahkman, at 998 career points, tripped over a Terp and picked up the foul. The rest was academic.

Michigan escapes their murderous stretch at 2-1 (that shoulda been 3-0) with a tournament resume, and now has a few days to rest before their Thursday tilt in Lincoln, followed by Rutgers at home.

[After the jump: a box score, more photos by MG, some favorite tweets, and at some point you might want to breathe]

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Submitted by Ace on November 29th, 2017 at 3:33 PM

If you're looking for the UNC preview, click here or scroll down.

Charles Matthews, Point Guard


No point guard? Just run the offense through the wing. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews was nothing short of spectacular in the Maui Invitational. The only thing that could slow him down was cramps, which hit in the third game in three days after Matthews had posted back-to-back 20+ point, 8+ rebound, 3+ assist games.

If anything, those numbers undersell Matthews's impact. This offense now runs through him, much like the 2014 team's went through Nik Stauskas while the team broke in a freshman point guard. In the loss to LSU, Matthews took on 40% of the team's possessions with remarkable efficiency: 28 points on 22 shot equivalents, six offensive rebounds, three assists, and only two turnovers. While the final result may not have been desirable, Michigan established their offensive identity in this game. Once again, the two-man game with Moe Wagner will be the centerpiece of the offense, this time with Matthews running the show.

Early on, Michigan used a side screen to get Matthews going left-to-right into the paint, where he could either pull up for a short jumper or dump it off to Wagner for a jumper:

Like the Walton-Wagner duo, the two showed an innate ability to read the defense and make the right play off the screen, whether originating at the top of the key or off to the side. Matthews found Wagner with a nifty lob on the roll to set up an and-one; Wagner flipped a high screen to get a wide open jumper; when the roll wasn't open, Wagner cleared out so Matthews could isolate his defender and draw a shooting foul off the drive; when Wagner popped out for a three-point attempt, Matthews crashed the boards and cashed in with a putback.

What's been most impressive, and pleasantly surprising, is Matthews's court vision and passing out of the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy, Michigan ranks in the 88th percentile in pick-and-roll derived offense when Matthews is the ballhander, and he's currently providing more value as a passer (87th percentile) than a finisher (69th). This play jumped out to me the most from last week. Wagner slips the initial screen as VCU aggressively doubles Matthews. When the defender in the corner slides down to prevent a Wagner layup opportunity, Matthews throws a really difficult pass to Duncan Robinson over the double:

If that pass is late or even a bit off-target, VCU can recover to contest Robinson's shot. Instead, it's an easy three points because Matthews puts it right on him.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Matthews-Wagner off-ball two-man game and more.]

Michigan 87, UC Riverside 42

Michigan 87, UC Riverside 42

Submitted by Ace on November 26th, 2017 at 6:18 PM


Moe Wagner reacts to Jordan Poole's block/three sequence. [James Coller/MGoBlog]

Things you need to know from this game:

Wilton Speight announced he'll grad-transfer during the second half.

Four Wolverines scored in double figures, led by Moe Wagner with 21.

Eli Brooks finally got some production out of the point guard position, scoring eight on 3-for-6 shooting (2-for-4 3P) and handing out a couple assists in 18 minutes.

Charles Matthews dished out 12 assists. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, meanwhile, had his sixth straight game with at least four assists (five) and recorded only his second turnover of the season.

There was a 7:30 stretch in the first half during which UC Riverside went 0-for-9 from the field with seven turnovers.

Jordan Poole did this:

That's worth another look:

Oh, twist my arm, here's another reaction shot:


[Coller]

Further takeaways from this game will come in a more comprehensive Basketbullets on Tuesday.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]