Just when it looked like Michigan was going to get their first blowout win of the 2017-18 campaign, Southern Mississippi stunned the Wolverines by taking the lead into the locker room.
Then Duncan Robinson hit a pair of big triples in the middle of the second half that propelled Michigan to go on a 25-7 run to end the game, topping USM 61-47 on Thursday night at the Crisler Center.
“None of these three teams we’ve played will probably end up winning the national championship,” said Michigan head coach John Beilein. “So I think right now, we know more about this team than in years past.”
The win moved Michigan to 3-0 on the season, its second win by double figures on the early year.
It didn’t take long for Michigan to get the ball rolling.
After allowing the Golden Eagles to score the opening bucket, forward Moritz Wagner scored four and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman tallied eight points in the first seven minutes to form a 12-2 lead.
Michigan would continue to roll following a pair of sophomore forward Jon Teske buckets, making the score 20-6 past the halfway mark of the opening half.
USM would strike back, however, as they went on a 9-0 run over a 2:21 span nearing halftime, making the score uncomfortably close for the fans at the Crisler Center at 25-24.
The Golden Eagles wouldn’t stop there, as Tyree Griffin hit a triple as the horn sounded to make the score 33-32 at the break. USM made seven of its last eight shots to end the half.
Griffin led all scorers with 13 points at the break, while Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan with 10.
While Michigan was shooting 48 percent (12-for-25) from the field and 31 percent (4-for-13) from beyond the arc in the first half, USM shot 54 percent (14-for-26) and the Wolverines coughed the ball up five times.
The Golden Eagles kept playing strong into the second half, holding a 40-36 lead in the first five minutes. Then, Michigan answered.
Robinson hit Michigan’s first 3-pointer out of six tries and then Abdur-Rahkman hit a bunny in the lane, reclaiming a 43-40 lead for Michigan with 10:35 left in the game.
Robinson would hit another triple and then Teske would add a layup, resulting in an 13-0 run over a 5:39 span to give the Wolverines a controlling 49-40 lead with 8:28 to play.
That run wouldn’t stop as the Wolverines went on a 25-7 run to end the game and take control, finishing off the Golden Eagles who battled them tough for a good part of the evening.
Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan for the second straight game with 14 points while Robinson and Wagner added 12 points each.
Abdur-Rahkman said this team is still trying to find its way on offense in more than one way.
“We passed up some good shots and forced some at times,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “It’ll come with trust, and everyone trusts each one another but it will get better in our shot selection.”
Teske recorded his first-career double-double as a Wolverine with 10 points and 11 boards over 15 minutes of play.
Teske said every day in practice he is getting better and his coaches are seeing that more and more.
“I just went out there and played my game and my coaches and teammates are trusting me,” Teske said. “I didn’t really know about the double-double, I’m just trying to help the team win in anyway I can.”
Michigan as a team shot 49 percent (23-for-47) from the field and 35 percent (8-for-23) from 3-point distance. Michigan won the battle on the glass 32-23, but turned the ball over 11 times.
Michigan will now play its first game away from the Crisler Center of the season in the Maui Invitational against LSU on Monday, Nov. 20 at 11:30 p.m.
Beilein said they set this up to be like a “six-team tournament” starting with tonight’s game.
“Tonight was our Sweet Sixteen game and now we are going to play in the Elite Eight for a Final Four appearance,” Beilein said. “I don’t know how we will do out there, but I know we will get better.”
- Following a career-high 13-point performance against Central Michigan, Zavier Simpson had no points and only took one shot in 22 minutes of play. Jaaron Simmons played 20 minutes and recorded two points.
- This was the first-ever meeting between Michigan and USM.
- Tyree Griffin led all scorers with 15 points while adding four rebounds and two assists.
- This was Michigan’s lowest scoring total of the season, as well as its opponents lowest total this year.