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Michigan shows some bounce back against Air Force

The Wolverines took care of business against another weak non-conference foe.

NCAA Basketball: Air Force at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It did not really have the feel of a blowout, but the outcome was never in doubt as Michigan took down Air Force in Ann Arbor. The Wolverine defense recorded its best effort in seven games, holding the Falcons to 50 points and 0.79 points per possession, representing a nice rebound from recent weeks.

A 21-point win cannot bring too much criticism, but it was not exactly as dominant of a victory as the scoreline might imply. Hopefully Michigan is just waiting for the resumption of conference play, as the last few outings have left a fair amount of room for improvement. It always feels like nitpicking to criticize an undefeated team, but in some ways it should be taken as a compliment

Tis the season for giving

This game was never going to be close because of Air Force’s propensity for turnovers. Entering the game as one of the country’s worst teams at protecting the ball, the Falcons were horrendous on Saturday, recording 20(!) turnovers on the afternoon. Michigan took advantage of these live-ball opportunities, routinely running the break going the other way.

The Wolverines deserve some credit for these steals, as they continued to play smart, aggressive defense for 40 minutes, but the Falcons essentially dug their own grave all day. Michigan has not been an above-average team at generating turnovers this season, and Air Force committed plenty of unforced errors. The defense did what it needed to do, staying alert and taking advantage of the free gifts.

Baby it’s cold (from) outside

Another game, another pedestrian showing from behind the arc. Michigan shot 31 percent from deep on 32 attempts, settling for jumpers more often than it needed to. Jordan Poole kept his hot streak going, hitting half his attempts, and Isaiah Livers and Ignas Brazdeikis hit three apiece as well, but the rest of the team went just 1-for-13.

Taking threes is not bad in itself, but the Wolverines must be more willing to drive. Players like Charles Matthews and Jon Teske have been great at the rim this season and need the opportunity to attach mismatches in the paint. If the deep shots are not falling, the offense needs to get a little more creative.

Odds and ends

  • Matthews looked good, notching 17 points on a team-leading 26.4 percent usage rate. His 3-pointers were not falling but he was very effective in the lane, going 6-for-8 on twos.
  • The Wolverines had just seven free throw attempts, further proving their hesitance to attack the rim. At least they made 71 percent of them.
  • Brazdeikis recovered significantly from his down game last weekend. The freshman put up an impressive line of 19 points with a 65 percent effective field goal rate.
  • Michigan is off until Dec. 30. One more tune-up game remains until Big Ten play, where subpar efforts will be punished.