The Michigan Wolverines had a rough time on Tuesday night playing in the unfriendly confines of No. 1 Louisville’s home venue in a loss, but they were quick to turn the page on Friday. Michigan defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes by a score of 103-91 in the opener of Big Ten Conference play on Friday night at Crisler Center.
Franz Wagner led the team in scoring with a career-high points , while Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske chipped in with 16 points each. Iowa’s Luka Garza was a one-man show, scoring 44 points, 27 of which came in the first half. All five Michigan starters finished in double figures.
The pace of play in this game was much quicker for the Wolverines and water found its level after shots failed to fall the other night. Michigan could only muster 43 points total at Louisville on Tuesday, but surpassed that mark with about four minutes to play in the first half and led 50-38 when the two teams went into the locker room.
The second half saw Michigan stay ahead double digits for most of the time, though Iowa made a few runs and got it down to a 7-point deficit with under eight minutes to play. The Wolverines rode a strong showing from their bench and ultimately achieved the final result they were hoping for with the final score at 103-91. This game was stretched out in the end by Fran McCaffery going offense/defense and fouling down 15 in the final minute and a half of the game.
- If we had game balls to give out for tonight, they go to both Brandon Johns and Austin Davis. Both players put in their best efforts of the season in the victory and combined for 20 points off the bench. Johns in particular had a notable effort seeing as Tuesday’s game at Louisville was a rough go for him. He was active on both ends of the floor in this game and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Davis was important with the game plan seemingly being to rotate the bigs in for Teske to avoid foul trouble and then Colin Castleton missing a portion of the game while being tended to in the locker room after taking a shot to the face. In a game full of standout performances, these two were critical in the first half.
- Wagner’s performance was a blast and one that felt like was on the precipice of coming since he debuted last week. He was drinking out of a fire hose, so to speak, in the Bahamas with three games in three days and then the game at Louisville on Tuesday, which was not all that kind to him, either. Wagner was comfortable and it seemed like once the ball started going through the hoop, it gave him a nice lift. What’s most impressive about him is how quickly he can hit that next gear and explode. It seemingly only take a step for him to accelerate and that was on display in this one. There seem to be no lingering effects from the wrist injury and he should only continue to get better moving forward. Juwan Howard even went as far to say after the game that he thinks he has a chance to end his career as one of the all-time great Wolverines (more on that later).
- I would not be too concerned about Iowa going off like they did offensively, namely Garza. He is a guy who draws a ton of fouls and it seemed like Michigan was taking a conservative approach to defending them and letting him get his.
- Everybody that played in this game scored for the Wolverines with six players finishing in double figures with Wagner (18), Simpson (16), Teske (16), Isaiah Livers (14), Eli Brooks (13) and Johns (12) leading the way. Davis (8), Castleton (4) and David DeJulius (2) rounded things out for Michigan.
- We figured that Michigan was nowhere near as inept offensively as they showed at Louisville the other night and Friday night proved that game to this point was an outlier. Of course, it helps to see KenPom’s 105th-ranked defense after seeing the fourth-ranked unit in the country, but it goes to show that this team still knows how to make shots when the opportunities present themselves.
- Free throw shooting has been frustrating with this team at times in the past, but they made their opportunities count on Friday. Michigan finished the game 29-of-34 from the line in a game where the officials were pretty whistle-happy throughout the night.
Next up for Michigan is another conference game on Wednesday on the road at Illinois before returning to Crisler a week from Saturday to take on Oregon.