The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Monday (12/22/2014), they beat Coppin State 72-56 in Crisler Arena. The win raises Michigan’s season record to 7-5.
After losing 4 games in a row, including 2 major upsets, any win is a welcome win. Coppin State is not a very impressive opponent, but this was a win that UM needed desperately. This was Michigan’s final non-conference game; the Big Ten schedule starts this week.
The CSU game was relatively straightforward and stress free. Michigan came out fast, and got an early 11-0 lead. They made it 21-3, and never looked back. It was 42-26 at halftime, and the lead got as high as 27 points (62-35) before the subs came in, and CSU poured it on to make the score respectable. Michigan was just trying to “dribble it out” with 10 seconds left when CSU pressed hard, and got a steal and a 3-point basket. Bush-league stuff.
For once, the stats are worth looking at. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (25-for-53 = 47.2%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (8-for-26 = 30.8%), and they shot free throws poorly (14-for-26 = 53.8%). So, how did they win so handily? Rebounds. They won the rebounding battle 43-31, which lead to more shots. They actually lost the turnover battle (12-11), but the 12 extra rebounds made the difference.
Individually, only 2 players hit double figures: Ricky Doyle (16 points, a new career high) and Zak Irvin (13 points). The other 3 starters all got close to double figures: Kameron Chatman (9 points), Caris LeVert (8 points), and Derrick Walton Jr. (9 points).
When UM had a comfortable lead in the 2nd half, Coach Beilein emptied the bench, so everyone who isn’t being redshirted got to play, and almost all of them scored. Mark Donnal did the best (8 points), and Aubrey Dawkins did well (5 points). Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (2 points) hit a pair of free throws, and Max Bielfeldt (1 point) hit one. Spike Albrecht and Sean Lonergan played but didn’t score. Then there’s Austin Hatch: he scored his first official point (as opposed to the point he scored in the exhibition game) on a free throw. It was an emotional moment, and he got a standing ovation. Good for him!
This week, Michigan begins Big Ten play with two games. On Tuesday (12/30/2014, 3:00 p.m., ESPN2), they play Illinois in Crisler, then on Saturday (01/03/2015, 2:15 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Purdue. These are 2 of the lower-division Big Ten teams, and if Michigan is going to be a contender this season, they need to win both of these games. The way they’ve been playing the last 3 weeks, they could easily lose them both. We’ll see which UM team shows up: the one that beat Oregon and Syracuse, and almost beat Villanova, or the one that lost at home to NJIT and EMU.
Check back here next week to see what happened, and why.