In its first game back at the Crisler Center following the Maui Invitational, Michigan steamrolled UC Riverside by a final score of 87-42 on Sunday night.
It was the Wolverines third win in a row, moving them to 6-1 on the season and 4-0 at home.
Head coach John Beilein said he was proud of the way his team was able to adjust on the short rest.
“We knew our travel would be difficult and at yesterday’s practice I felt funny let alone the players,” Beilein said. “One of the reasons we scheduled this game was the fear of playing Chaminade in the tournament which we did, so I’m glad we played this game.”
Moritz Wagner opened the game by picking up where he left off in Maui, scoring the first seven points for Michigan and leading the Wolverines to a 17-7 lead with 14:08 left in the half.
Michigan didn't stop rolling as they would go on a 9-3 run capped off by a freshman Isaiah Livers fast break, two-handed jam to give Michigan a 26-10 lead and force a Highlanders timeout midway through the opening half.
That lead would grow to 41-17 as the Wolverines went to the locker room, going on a 20-2 run over an eight minute span in the first half to help them obtain the advantage.
Michigan forced 10 first half turnovers and held the Highlanders to 27 percent (7-of-26) from the field.
Matthews led everyone with 11 points while adding seven assists and three rebounds. Seven Wolverines scored in the first half as they shot an even 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field and 33 percent (5-of-15) from downtown.
Wagner opened the second half like he did the first by making five more points, leading Michigan to a 58-23 advantage with 14:40 left in the game.
“It was fun to be back to Crisler, I made a couple shots and they hedged the ball screens,” Wagner said. “It allowed me to get open and I knocked some shots down.”
Freshman Jordan Poole took full advantage of his playing time by getting the crowd on its feet with a huge block and then 3-pointer on the other side to give the Wolverines a 82-34 lead with 3:34 to go.
“I wouldn't say he’s an elite athlete, I’d say he has elite timing,” Beilein said. “I think he is evolving right now and is really figuring out how much sweat this college game takes and work, so as he does this he has a high ceiling as well.”
Michigan continued to dominate to the finish, shooting 54 percent from the field and 46 percent (13-for-28) from beyond the arc. They held UCRV to 30 percent from the field and 21 percent (3-for-14) from deep.
The Wolverines out-rebounded (44-32), forced more turnovers (15-11) and scored more second-chance points (11-0) than the Highlanders.
Wagner led everyone with a double-double, recording 21 points (4-of-5 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds while Matthews had a double-double himself with 17 points and 12 assists, while adding four rebounds.
Matthews said Beilein told him all game “just hit singles, you don’t have to hit home runs” and it helped him slow the game down to lead to the assists.
“I had one turnover all game, I didn't hear anything about assists,” Beilein said. “As soon as I made the turnover, coach B(eilein) was on me, but I respect him for that.”
Michigan will now head to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to take on the No. 9 ranked Tarheels on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. from Dean Smith Center.
Beilein said he’s never coached at UNC and said this experience will be new to him as well.
“I don’t watch other college basketball games,” Beilein said. “I only watch us and the next opponent. They are going to rim-run like a cattle stamped and if you don’t get back on defense they have big, powerful guys that will make you pay.
“Roy (Williams) is a good friend and I hope that we can go out there and give him a good game and maybe win it at the end.”
The game will be a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which Michigan lost its game in last year against Virginia Tech 73-70 at the Crisler Center.
- Freshman Luke Wilson, Naji Ozeir and C.J. Baird got into a game for the first time this season. Brent Hibbits scored his first points with a 3-pointer and layup to total five points.
- Freshman Eli Brooks recorded eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes to lead the Michigan point guards. Zavier Simpson had zero points and a rebound in 13 minutes and Simmons had no points in seven minutes.
- Nine different Michigan players scored.
- Michigan last played North Carolina when they lost 77-71 in the National Championship in the 1992-93 season.