The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (12/15/2015), they beat Northern Kentucky 77-62, then on Saturday (12/19/2015), they crushed Youngstown State 105-46. Both games were in Crisler Arena. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 9-3.
The big news was that two different players had triple-doubles, one in each game. In the NKU game, Caris LeVert had 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, for only the 4th triple-double in UM history, and the first since 2011. Not to be outdone, in the YSU game, Derrick Walton Jr. had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists, for the second triple-double as many games. This is incredibly rare: back-to-back triple-doubles in the same week. Wow.
Now, you’ve got to understand: both of these opponents were overmatched (cupcakes), so it’s not a surprise that Michigan won both games. It was surprising that NKU managed to hang around with UM for most of the game, and it was just as surprising that UM clobbered YSU as badly as they did.
NKU played much better than anyone expected, and UM played a solid-but-uninspired game against them. Michigan was in control for the whole game, but they could never put the game completely out of reach. UM led for the whole game, and had a 12 point lead (32-20) midway through the 1st half. They led by 9 (43-34) at halftime, and pushed the lead up to double figures right away after halftime, and never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way. The lead got as high as 19 a few times, and the final margin of 15 points is about right.
YSU didn’t play very well, and Michigan played their best game so far this season, which was a bad combination for YSU. UM jumped out to a quick 11 point lead (14-3), and steadily stretched it to 33 points at halftime (55-22). YSU cut the lead to “only” 27 points (56-29) early in the 2nd half, then the roof fell in on them. Once Michigan got going in the 2nd half, the rout was on. YSU quit playing defense, and just let UM slice through the lane for dunk after dunk. It was brutal, and fun to watch.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? We learned that they can beat the cupcakes convincingly, and that the offense can be deadly when it gets going. We’ll have to see how that works against the tougher competition in the Big Ten, coming up soon.
The stats for the NKU game are pretty good. UM played a pretty good game, both offensively and defensively, but NKU played their best game of the season. UM shot well overall (28-for-53 = 52.8%), they shot 3-pointers well (8-for-18 = 44.4%), and they shot free throws pretty well (13-for-18 = 72.2%). They (barely) won the rebounding battle (29-28), and they won the turnover battle (10-14). It was a solid performance, but nothing to get excited about.
The stats for the YSU game are only slightly better. UM shot very well overall (40-for-65 = 61.5%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (12-for-30 = 40.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (13-for-18 = 72.2%). They crushed YSU on the boards (46-23), and won the turnover battle decisively (6-12). It was a good, old fashioned butt kicking.
Individually, the big story was the two triple-doubles, but there were other stories as well. First of all, Walton returned to the lineup after missing 3 games with his ankle injury, and he played very well in both games. Besides the 10 points he had in the YSU game, he also had 16 points in his first game back, vs. NKU. LeVert also hit double figures in both games, with 13 points in the NKU game and 19 points vs. YSU. Duncan Robinson is now a starter, and he had double figures in both games (18 and 14). The other 2 starters almost hit double figures in both games. Ricky Doyle had 9 and 8 points, and Zak Irvin had 10 and 8.
The bench really contributed this week, especially in the YSU game. Three bench players hit double figures in one of the games: Mark Donnal had 11 important points vs. NKU, but failed to score in the YSU game. Aubrey Dawkins had 19 points in the YSU game, but failed to score in the NKU game. DJ Wilson sat out the NKU game with an ankle injury, but played in the last 6 minutes of the YSU game and scored 12 meaningless points.
The rest of the bench only contributed in the YSU game. Kameron Chatman had 8 points vs. YSU and 0 vs. NKU. Moritz Wagner had 7 points in the YSU game and 0 vs. NKU. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Andrew Dakich both played in both games, and failed to score.
There were a lot of significant moments this week:
- Donnal’s 11 points vs. NKU were very important, and kept UM in control of that game.
- Robinson shot 6-for-8 and 4-for-7 from 3-point range this week, which works out to 10-for-15 (66.7%). Impressive.
- Dawkins finally woke up in the YSU game, and played like he did last season. He had the UM dunk of the year (so far) with a 360 in the 1st half.
- Wilson hit 2-for-3 from 3-point range in the YSU game. Very nice.
This week, Michigan only plays one game, since Christmas is coming. On Wednesday (12/23/2015, 7:00 p.m., BTN), they play Bryant in Crisler Arena. This is the last “cupcake” game before the Big Ten season starts, and it should be another easy win.
Come by Crisler for the game, and check back next week to see what happened, and why.