The Michigan Wolverines moved to 5-0 on the season in their first of three games in three days in an 83-76 win over Iowa State at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas on Wednesday.
It was a balanced offensive attack for the most part with Isaiah Livers leading the way with 17 points. David DeJulius had 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting off the bench. Franz Wagner made his collegiate debut for the Wolverines after missing the first four games while healing from a wrist fracture he suffered on Oct. 20. He finished with six points, three rebounds and one assist and fouled out in 23 minutes.
The Wolverines went down 16-7 to start this one with turnovers being a problem early and Teske getting himself into early foul trouble and sitting for most of the first half. However, Michigan was able to roar back with standout bench performances from DeJulius, Colin Castleton and some very good Austin Davis cameo minutes to head into the locker room up 41-37.
The second half saw the Wolverines stay hot, as they would continue to open up their lead and eventually be up by as many as 15 points with Michigan leading 68-53 around the eight minute mark. Iowa State would get it down to eight with about six minutes to go. Michigan would be able to withstand the charge and walk out of the first game of this preseason tournament with the victory.
- Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room with Wagner’s debut. He started the game and looked fairly comfortable. If there are any ill-effects of his wrist injury, it was not apparent in the game on Wednesday. He was aggressive offensively and played very well on the defensive end of the floor. He’s an immediate upgrade at the three and 25 minutes a game right now seems about right for him. Wagner is extremely raw and has a lot of developing to do, but he feels like he may be a bit further along as a freshman than his brother was at Michigan.
- This was a good win for Michigan, but 22 turnovers is not going to cut it, especially when they play the better competition that they will see over the next few weeks in non-conference play and heading into Big Ten action. Zavier Simpson had eight of those turnovers. We’ve talked about it here before on how he needs to be much better for Michigan to be competitive and reach its ceiling this year. This team will go as he goes and if he’s throwing around the basketball recklessly, that’s not going to get it done. Turnover numbers increasing is to be a bit expected with a new system and playing much faster, but there are growing pain turnovers and then there are careless turnovers. We saw a bit too much of that on Wednesday.
- Simpson will get piled on for the turnovers, but for the most part he played a good game and did a nice job settling his team down in stretches on his own. He is the heartbeat of this squad and is an extension of the coaching staff on the floor when he is out there. Turnovers are going to be a problem for a bit because of just how much he is being asked to do, but will hopefully be something that settles down as he settles in. Remember, he is a senior and has to now re-wire three years of John Beilein teaching and now quarterback an offense that is going to be much more up-tempo than we have seen. Give him time.
- DeJulius was tremendous off the bench in this game. This is the guy that we have been waiting to see and this was his best performance as a Wolverine. Castleton had a good showing and has really started to come on in the last few games, as well. Michigan is going to play him quite a bit and he gave the Wolverines some quality minutes, along with Davis, when Teske was sitting on the bench in foul trouble. The bench in general is a strength of this team and even more-so now that Wagner is back in the lineup. That allows them to bring Nunez off the bench and give the second unit a boost from the perimeter shooting-wise.
- Let’s go back to Castleton for a second. He still has a ways to go in his development, namely but physically developing more, but I remain impressed by just how skilled he is and how he seemingly improves each time he steps out on the court. Juwan Howard has called him a “special talent” in the past and it feels like he is only scratching the surface there.
- Teske only played 16 minutes in the game due to foul trouble, but his presence was still felt with 11 points and six rebounds. A few weeks ago, it may have felt like the odds of winning a game like this would be slim with him on the bench, but that they could weather the storm and allow him to come back and make an impact is a big deal.
- Livers continues to be a guy who is able to get baskets when Michigan needs them the most. He did not have a terrific shooting day (5-for-13), but hit a few late that helped seal the victory. There’s no question that he is Michigan’s go-to scorer right now.
- Rebounding has been a bit of a concern early on in the year, but the Wolverines won that battle somewhat handily on Wednesday with 39 boards to ISU’s 28.
Michigan will now play the winner of the Alabama/North Carolina game on Wednesday. Thursday’s Thanksgiving tilt will tipoff at 1:30 p.m. ET.