After the defense posted arguably its worst performance of the season on Tuesday, Michigan made a statement at home four days later. The Wolverines were dominant on defense against Maryland, taking the first matchup between the two squads this season. The trip to College Park will not be easy, but Michigan was locked in on Saturday.
In what seems to be a trend lately, the Maize and Blue held onto the lead for most of the game but never pulled away. The visitors threatened a few times but were unable to even up the score, thanks to the aforementioned defense. Michigan’s offense was not as impressive, but did enough to keep the Terps at bay throughout the afternoon.
Making a statement
There has been plenty of talk about the remaining schedules between Big Ten title contenders, and Michigan has the toughest road ahead. Maryland’s trip to Ann Arbor was probably the most winnable of the games against other top teams, but the Wolverines showed that they can step up when needed.
0.82 PPP was Maryland’s worst effort of the season and just its second game under 0.90 PPP all season. Surprisingly, the Terps 16 turnovers are nothing new, but Michigan took advantage of sloppy play by attacking in transition. Maryland is not the best shooting team, but a 41.8 percent eFG and 27.2 percent three-point rate are signs that nothing came easy.
Veterans lead the way
Though Ignas Brazdeikis had a decent day with 13 points, it was the team’s two leaders who really stepped up for Michigan. Zavier Simpson led the team with a 83 percent eFG, including a 2-for-2 effort from deep, but his biggest impact on offense was via his eight assists. His ever-stellar defense yielded a pair of steals and limited offense from the visitors.
The leader in points was Charles Matthews, who is suddenly clicking on all cylinders. Matthews attacked the rim all game, especially off Maryland turnovers, collecting 10 of his 14 points in the paint. He hit a couple more mid-range shots, which is an area where he seems to gravitate to, for better or for worse. Both Simpson and Matthews have been instrumental in carrying the offense when it has been slowing down.
On the downslope
Threes were not falling — as always — but at this point I am resigned to say that this team is not going to stop shooting them. The bigger issue might be Jordan Poole, who has simply looked off from deep. The below is a chart I threw together mid-game and does not even include his 0-for-3 performance on Saturday.
it's not that Poole is bad now, but it's much more unlikely that he has a lights-out game anymore pic.twitter.com/IRR7bPVt1d— Kyle Yost (@kye_ill) February 16, 2019
The other surprise was Jon Teske, who was superb on defense, especially in the first half, but was a black hole on the other end. The big man led the team with a 25.1 percent usage rate and went an ice cold 1-for-7 from deep. This is not how he can best help this team. Teske has been excellent on offense lately and has a versatile game, but he needs to stay in the paint where he is post efficient.