With the spotlight focused elsewhere in the world of college basketball tonight, with top five matchups like Duke-Kansas and Michigan State-Kentucky (not to mention Wisconsin-Florida), no one would've faulted you for only half paying attention to Michigan's tilt against South Carolina State tonight.
Michigan once again got off to a sluggish start on both ends, including some fairly bad post defense from Glenn Robinson III and Zak Irvin early against SCSU's Luka Radovic.
That's when Caris LeVert started to heat up, hitting three straight 3-point shots to put the Wolverines ahead 16-7 a little over five minutes into the game. The competition to date has not exactly been tough, but LeVert has lived up to the offseason hype.
Shortly thereafter, Glenn Robinson looped around a screen to the right wing, where he swished a vaguely contested three with ease.
LeVert hit added two more threes, making it clear that he had no intention on missing tonight. Eight minutes into the game, LeVert had already tallied 15 points on 5/5 shooting from the beyond the arc. Up 27-10, Michigan locked up the game early, which was an improvement over the disappointing first half against Lowell.
A sequence that included a monstrous Robinson dunk and an utterly wide open Nik Stauskas corner three in transition put the Wolverines up 35-15. If you didn't watch the game --and given that it wasn't televised, odds are you didn't-- it's difficult to state just how open Michigan's shooters were throughout the first half. Stauskas et al could have gone to Zingerman's, eaten some sort of delicious sandwich, and come back to the Crisler Center hardwood at the spot in which they were previously open, and they still would have been wide open.
This game was like that one Mario Manningham touchdown touchdown against Notre Dame in 2006, which caused NBC announcer Pat Haden to say "Oh wide open" before the ball landed in No. 86's bread basket for an easy score. It was that, over and over and over again.
As fun as it is to watch Michigan rain down threes as if this was a glorified shootaround, these games quickly became the opposite of fun, kind of like a little kid suffering the aftermath of a Halloween candy binge. This is especially true on a night like this with so many other marquee matchups being played across the country.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging that Michigan was able to bounce back from their horrid shooting effort in the first half against Lowell. The Wolverines took a 59-23 lead into the half after having gone 12-of-19 from three while scoring at a clip of 1.73 points per possession--yes, you read that right.
As you can imagine, the second half was much of the same, and there's no use spilling too much virtual ink on it. LeVert once again led the way offensively for Michigan, this time with 24 points (a career high), practically without breaking a sweat. Yes, Mitch McGary is still out, but Caris LeVert has been Michigan's best player to date, which is still kind of a weird concept.
Glenn Robinson III pitched in 13 points and Nik Stauskas added 23 of his own on 6-of-7 shooting from downtown. Freshman shot hunter Zak Irvin had himself a bit of a rough outing, which I think became inevitable after he missed his first couple of shots; Irvin fished 2-of-7 from the field (1-of-5 from three).
Michigan gets its first real test of the season on Sunday in Ames (5:00 ET, ESPN2). Iowa State will be without senior forward Melvin Ejim, but playing on the road is always tough, especially for a team led by a freshman point guard.