Michigan 59, Texas 52

Submitted by Ace on December 12th, 2017 at 11:56 PM

It may have been ugly. Texas may have been shorthanded. For Michigan, though, tonight's 59-52 road victory over the Longhorns capped a huge week for their tournament chances.

While a defensive slugfest wasn't the unlikeliest scenario, I don't think anybody expected this game to play out the way it did. Both teams struggled to hit from beyond the arc, but Michigan scored more efficiently than a tall Texas squad on two-pointers, especially as they built a 12-point halftime lead. The Longhorns led 2-0 at the under-16 timeout; they wouldn't lead again. Facing five-star skyscraper Mo Bamba, Michigan won the battle of the boards.

After the achingly slow start, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got the team rolling with a corner three and never looked back. The Wolverines, especially MAAR, got more confident attacking the basket even with Bamba protecting the rim, and they were able to hit a surprising number of tough shots. Of Michigan's 14 first-half field goals, 12 were two-pointers.

The lead didn't remain comfortable for long as Texas made multiple second-half surges. Duncan Robinson and Isaiah Livers both had trouble slowing down Dylan Osetkowski, who led the way for Texas with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He was the only Texas player who could maintain any sort of effeciency on offense, however; the rest of the team went 10-for-25 on twos and 3-for-16 from downtown.

After Osetkowski went on an early second-half tear, Michigan answered with an 11-0 run spearheaded by Charles Matthews and Moe Wagner. Shortly after the run ended, however, Wagner rolled his right ankle over Bamba's foot, and he was quickly ruled out of the game. Seemingly given new life, Texas went on a 7-0 run of their own to close the gap to seven.

As he had all night, MAAR came up big, though perhaps a tad lucky; his banked-in three-pointer ended the run and all but ended the game with 4:53 remaining. He'd add one more tough bucket and a free throw to keep UT at bay, finishing with team-highs of 17 points and ten rebounds.

After beating UCLA and Texas in back-to-back games, Michigan gets a few tune-up contests before conference play starts in January, beginning with a matchup against Detroit on Saturday. While the schedule would allow Michigan to avoid rushing Moe Wagner back, his injury thankfully doesn't sound too serious anyway:

Jon Teske played 18 minutes because of Wagner's injury and early foul; he was a defensive presence, blocking two shots and adding a steal. While he failed to make an offensive impact, he covered much of the gap with his defense, continuing an encouraging run of play for him. Zavier Simpson had another solid performance, getting into the lane for a couple tough buckets, dishing out four assists, and once again earning John Beilein's trust to handle crunch-time minutes. Jordan Poole only played eight minutes but made both of his shots, a tough transition bucket and a step-in jumper off a nifty move at the arc.

So long as Wagner's injury doesn't have a significant impact, this was a huge night for the boys in blue. The victory has already moved Michigan up five spots on KenPom, and for now they should be on the right side of the bubble in early tourney projections. Even if Texas collapses without leading scorer Andrew Jones, which looks like a distinct possibility, the Wolverines just came through a tough five-game stretch with a 3-2 record, strengthened their resumé, and got a better idea of the rotation going forward. Now Beilein gets a few games to tinker before Big Ten play resumes.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]



December 13th, 2017 at 12:09 AM ^

def not what we expected (although as I look, Texas is a surprisingly mediocre rebounding team).

MAAR had 4 OREBS and Matthews 3!

And finally we made some lucky circus shots and the other team missed some easy layups.  Goes around comes around.  Big win for the resume!

L'Carpetron Do…

December 13th, 2017 at 9:22 AM ^

YESSSS!  Sometimes you gotta win ugly.  Especially this team.  And you're exactly right - Michigan finally got some rolls out there.  And I couldn't believe some of the bunnies Texas were missing, especially early on.  Texas is a good team and I think they'll beat some teams this year.  I'll gladly root for them.

Schedule eases up now but Michigan can't take its foot off the pedal. They have to turn it on the next couple of weeks and really break in those new freshmen.  By the time the Purdue game rolls around Michigan should be comin' in hot!  Keep up the energy!


December 13th, 2017 at 12:06 AM ^

His rebounding is starting to remind me of Derick Walton. He attacks the ball and really elevates. I don't remember him rebounding like this in prior seasons.


December 13th, 2017 at 12:07 AM ^

barely scratching the surface. If he starts to take it to the hole with authority, watch out: Michigan's spacing will be immaculate. Beilein painted something of a masterpiece tonight.  


December 13th, 2017 at 7:44 AM ^

His floater over Bamba was a thing of beauty, but the luck factor was in MAAR's favor tonight (look at his banked 3 pointer as evidence).  If you look closer at the first play however, a dish to Moe would have been a dunk, a much higher percentage shot.  The team's exterior passing is coming along nicely, leading to open 3s, but we're missing Walton's drives, drawing the defense, and dishing for easy dunks/layups.  We'll get there because Beilein...


December 13th, 2017 at 8:51 AM ^

I'm not sure 20 games gets it done. Assuming we win out in our non conference games, 20 wins means we ended up 7-11 in conference play and lost our opener in the tournament. In a down Big Ten, I don't think that gets us in. We probably need to go at least .500 in conference if not better, but obviously who we beat plays a big factor there as well


December 13th, 2017 at 10:09 AM ^

Michigan has already played two conference games (1-1), so at 9-3 they have three more non-conference tilts and 16 league games.  Winning the three non-con games to get to 12-3 and then splitting those remaining 16 B1G games gets you to 20-11 (9-9 B1G) with opportunities in the conference tournament to solidify the resume and/or improve seeding.


December 13th, 2017 at 8:56 AM ^

I'm wondering how you came up with 20 wins.

The 3 non-conf games remaining are cupcakes, putting Michigan at 12 - 3.

That leaves 16 conference games on the schedule. I see two losses to Purdue, and a loss to MSU. I see a split with Maryland, and maybe PSU. I am sure there is another loss somewhere but think the rest of the games are winnable. Iowa is at the bottom with Illinois, which is 3 wins. Nebraska, Rutgers, OSU should be wins. (The last a revenge game.) Wisconsin looks terrible, and NW has returned to mediocrity, which would be another 3 wins. Minnesota is at home, another win. That would be 10 - 6

  • W  @ Iowa
  • W  vs. Illinois
  • L   vs. Purdue
  • L   @ MSU
  • W  vs. MD
  • W  @ Nebraska
  • W  vs. Rutgers
  • L   @  Purdue
  • W  vs. NW
  • W  vs. MN
  • ?  @ NW
  • ?  @ Wisconsin
  • W  vs. Iowa
  • W  vs. OSU
  • L   @ PSU
  • L   @ MD

Tell me where else you see losses.


December 13th, 2017 at 12:15 AM ^

Teske, Z and Livers combined for 66 minutes off the bench. They only scored 6 points but that doesn't matter because they weren't liabilities on defense. They understand their roles (defend, rebound, run the offense) and played really well.


December 14th, 2017 at 4:12 PM ^

His shot still looks off and rushed but his FT stroke thankfully remains pure.  That defense, though...yikes.  Osetkowski just abused him and trying to defend that Bamba Sims oop was a terrible decision.  Fouling in and of itself isn't the worst thing if you stop the opposing player from getting easy points but right now Robinson is fouling while giving up easy baskets.

Mr Miggle

December 13th, 2017 at 9:16 AM ^

heated up for the first time in a long time and because Texas is so bad on offense. Texas wasn't scoring much with our starters on the floor either. Give MAAR a game like he had against UCLA and this would have been very ugly.

Seems to be a minority opinion, but I don't see Livers as a plus player on defense. He has the potential to become one, but for now he looks like one of our poorer defenders in the half court. I do like how he runs the court.


December 13th, 2017 at 7:00 PM ^

he was 5-11 on 2s.  2-4 on 3's thanks to a bank.  He had the wild scoop shot over Bamba and the aforementioned bank which were kinda "lucky" if that's what you're trying to say, but he had several head scratchers too.  His Orating was 107.  Below his season average. Not spectacular.

Also, our starters weren't on the floor together for many minutes.  Wagner went out immediately, and by the time he came back in Duncan was in foul trouble such that we played a lot of Wagner + Livers and Teske + Duncan.

You are correct that Texas missed some easy bunnies.  I recall those being early with Duncan gaurding him (Osetkowski).  The Texas guards were generally awful, and I think that's part of them just being bad and part good defense.

Livers is a plus defender compared to Duncan.  The stats say it (better Defensive box plus minus, better opponent points per possesion against) and the eye test certainly confirms it.  You're definitely correct that he could be better.  He still makes a lot of freshman mistakes but he makes up for them such that they're more than offset relative to Duncan.

Whether he's a plus defender relative the an average PF, eh, dunno.  But he's better than our alternative such that it makes up for some iffy offensive nights.



December 13th, 2017 at 12:19 AM ^

You could tell we were bothered by Texas’ size at first. But we figured it out about half way into the first half. Bamba is a beast on D but Texas was lost without a go to offensive threat. Good win overall but I think UT really missed Jones in this one.

Also, I hope our 3-point shooting gets better real soon. We can’t get far shooting in the low to mid 30’s.


December 13th, 2017 at 12:44 AM ^

What was the review about on the Osetkowski foul late in the game? Vitale so I had the game on mute. Flagrant foul? Do they even have those in college? Not much of a basketball watcher.


December 13th, 2017 at 1:02 AM ^

a flagrant 2 which is defined as "when a player swings an elbow excessively and makes contact above the shoulders" (per wikipedia).

It is an automatic ejection and is reviewed so it's a lot like targeting in football. I'm surprised they didn't give it to the guy because it fit the definition to a T (note intent isn't mentioned in the rule, it's whether you swing your elbow excessively, which he def did), but I think Dick V was right (probably the only time all night) that the only explanation could have been that they didn't want to kick the guy out at the end of the game at Texas.  Crowd impacts the refs.


December 13th, 2017 at 10:05 AM ^

Onlly argument against it I could see was that maybe he got Matthews more with his forearm than his elbow, that he didn't really swing his elbow so much as use his entire arm to hook Matthews (in the head).

In soccer, there's a red card/yellow card distinction made based on whether a player cocks the elbow or just creates contact with the head in an unintentional effort to gain leverage. I wonder if some type of the same thinking went on here.


December 13th, 2017 at 2:04 AM ^

Shot isn't falling yet and game is still clearly too fast for him at times, but the potential is there. The rebounding, especislly effort offensive rebounds, are nice to watch


December 13th, 2017 at 8:43 AM ^

Game was really fast for DJ as a young guy too. DJ looked like Bambi out there his freshman year. Livers looks more comfortable than he did but things will slow down further. I expect a big leap for Livers as a soph.


December 13th, 2017 at 2:21 AM ^

I don't subscribe so I'm going by memory, but the 45th ranked offensive efficiency combined with the 33rd ranked defensive efficiency is the lowest and highest I can recall.  Seems like it could be a sign that this team has more room to grow than in the past given Beilein offenses seem to get better as seasons progress.


December 13th, 2017 at 4:30 AM ^

I thought Texas was better than that.  Not having leading scorer can do that I guess, but imo, they were all kinds of bad. 

Really like Mathews and MAAR.  

I thought Z went back to his old self.  He matched up good with UCLA pg.  I thought he would've vs Texas too.  Oh well, its a road game win. 


December 13th, 2017 at 7:19 AM ^

Since people like to make a big deal about bad announcers, how about Dickie V last night? Woof. STFU for a minute, guy. Not like it's surprising or new or anything but I guess I just don't listen to him do color for Michigan games very often.

We are lucky to have a guy like Coach B. Just watching Texas' offense last night made me appreciate Beilein more and more. It's so smooth and efficient. The team looks like they work very hard to look and be as mooth as they are.

Coach B owns Shaka.

Everyone Murders

December 13th, 2017 at 8:00 AM ^

I'm a fan of Dick Vitale, but embarrassed to admit it.  (I ran into him years ago, and spent 20 minutes or so talking to him about Michigan basketball and Michigan in general at his invitation.  From what I could tell his on-air persona is not a schtick.  Whether that's good or bad is another question, but he seemed genuine and also pro-Michigan.)

Howevah, when Mo Bamba blocked a shot and Vitale said "that's the sort of contribution Mo Bamba makes that doesn't show up on the stat sheet!" I was yelling "WTF?  That's maybe the purest example of a contribution that shows up on a stat sheet!".  He swings a lot, and misses a lot on the color commentary side.


December 13th, 2017 at 8:32 AM ^

I'm not sure, but I think shot-blocking stats were first kept in 70s (NBA) and not until the 80s in the NCAA. Wikipedia tells me Vitale started at ESPN in December 1979 (he called ESPN's first college basketball game). So when he first started, what he said about Bamba's block may have been true. I'd be willing to bet he's been using that line since very early in his career. In his mind, he's been frozen in time since then, so I guess we can cut him some slack.

But yeah, I hit mute so didn't hear it.


December 13th, 2017 at 8:03 AM ^

We saw stuff in this game that NEVER happens.  Opponents always shoot lights out from 3 against us, make all their free throws and they certainly don't miss layups.  Texas had trouble with all of that stuff. 

Officiating had a little too much home cooking.  There were a couple makeup calls in our favor but certainly not enough.  4 fouls less than 4 minutes into the game?  Come on.

It was ugly as sin for a while but I'll take the win.  Just hope Wagner heals quickly, which is probably wishful thinking.  Hopefully I'm wrong.