Before snatching Houston’s soul with a game-winning three, Jordan Poole hit peak swag with a vicious dunk and stare on the road against Penn State.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to #WhyJumpWednesday. @umichbball freshman @JordanPoole_2 snatches a defender's soul on this slam, and it's a #BTNStandout Presented by @Discover: pic.twitter.com/GVB64H6GbU— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 22, 2018
He ended up with 13 points to boost Michigan to a 72-63 victory, his second of three-straight games in double figures at the time.
A year later, he’s in the midst of an eight-game streak, averaging 17.1 points a contest. The sophomore looks to continue his tear as the Wolverines (13-0) resume Big Ten play Thursday night against the Nittany Lions.
The visitors enter Crisler Center at 7-6, losing all but one game by single-digits. Despite losing to two teams outside the top-100 (DePaul, Bradley), they also sport a 64-62 win over No. 9 Virginia Tech.
Jon Teske draws the toughest matchup with junior forward Lamar Stevens. At 6-foot-8, Stevens has taken defenders off the dribble to the tune of 18.8 points a game. He’s strictly an interior player, shooting 42.7 percent from the field despite just 17 percent from three.
He also leads Penn State with 8.2 rebounds on average, mostly on the defensive end. The next closest is 6-foot-9 reserve center Mike Watkins with 6.8.
Outside of Stevens, head coach Pat Chambers likes to spread and chuck. Freshman Rasir Bolton averages 14.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from deep. Josh Reaves and Myles Dread are the only others in the main rotation over 30 percent on their treys.
Without the hot hands of Tony Carr and Shep Garner from last year, Chambers has had to rely on a stingy defense. The Nittany Lions rank No. 24 per Kenpom on that end, forcing steals on 12 percent of possessions (No. 17 in the country).
The turnover-dependent defense is in the bottom half nationally, however, in effective field goal percentage allowed. With Zavier Simpson playing point for John Beilein’s typically turnover-averse offense, look for easy buckets exploiting over-aggressiveness.
After a month of hibernating against inferior competition, which Michigan will show up for conference play? The one that destroyed North Carolina, or struggled versus Binghamton?
How to Watch
Date: Thursday, Jan. 3
Location: Crisler Center — Ann Arbor, Mich.
Tipoff: 7:00 ET
Crack open a beer, laugh at Pat Chambers’ angry face and be sure to comment below.
Tonight’s question: Is Michigan a basketball school now, or will it ever be?