On Wednesday against UConn, Michigan couldn't buy a bucket. The Wolverines made 10-of-27 two-pointers and 8-of-29 three-pointers for an awful 32.1 FG% and a 39.3 eFG%.
On Friday, Michigan couldn't miss.
Michigan (4-2) converted 58 percent of its shots, including 14-of-25 threes, en route to 78-72 win over Texas (2-3) in the fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The offensive outburst was led by Caris LeVert, who tallied a game-high 19 points on 14 shots, Duncan Robinson, who scored 14 points thanks to 4-of-5 shooting from deep and added four assists, and Derrick Walton, who was assertive with the ball in his hands and finished with 13 points, seven assists, and five boards. Zak Irvin chipped in 13 points, too.
The Wolverines came out of the gates guns blazing. Aubrey Dawkins opened the scoring with a high-arcing three from the right wing. Two possessions later, Walton drilled a three of his own. Then, Walton sucked in the defense with a cut and found Dawkins wide open in the left corner. Swish. Just like that, Michigan's first three made field goals were triples, and it wasn't going to stop there. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson didn't want to miss out on the fun and added three straight first-half bombs of his own, including one where he pumped to get his defender in the air, dribbled to his right, and buried a three from the left wing. But Texas wouldn't go away, and Michigan led, 27-23, with 6:42 left.
Then LeVert, who had yet to score, decided to take over. He penetrated into the lane and threw up a floater. Good. On the next possession after Texas couldn't corral a steal, LeVert gained control of the ball and fired a three from the right wing. Bang. Two trips later, he put up a contested three off the dribble. Splash. And, with the final seconds ticking off the first-half game clock, LeVert released a three from straightaway. Buckets.
LeVert's 11-point spurt extended Michigan's lead to 44-32 at the halftime break.
It wasn't the last time that LeVert would carry the offense when Michigan needed it.
For much of the second half, Michigan kept Texas at an arm's length away as the Wolverines' lead fluctuated between 10 and 13 points. However, some untimely Michigan turnovers and Texas three-pointers helped the Longhorns cut the Wolverines' lead down to one as the score was 67-66 Michigan with 4:26 left. But LeVert wouldn't allowed Texas to get over the hump and move ahead. On the ensuing possession, LeVert drove down the lane for a layup and followed that with a nifty move where he jump-stopped near the hashmarks on the right side of the paint, faked a pass back, and stepped through the Longhorn defenders for a simple bank shot. Those two hoops gave Michigan a 71-66 lead.
Then Irvin drilled a contested straightaway three with 3:03 left to make it 74-66.
Texas would not threaten for the rest of the game.
It wasn't a perfect game for Michigan. Clearly, defense still is a concern. The Wolverines committed too many fouls and were fortunate that the Longhorns made only 8-of-19 free throws. Plus, Texas' 6-foot-10, 290-pound center Cameron Ridley, who abused Michigan down low with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting, should have been given a more touches. And Michigan needed a lights-out shooting effort just to defeat Texas by six points.
But it's nice to know that Michigan still can shoot like that against quality competition.