The Michigan Wolverines were 30-plus point favorites over the visiting Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Sunday night at Crisler Center, but found themselves in an unpredictably tight game that saw them have to play five extra minutes of basketball. After a scare, they will take the victory, though.
Michigan went into the locker room down 33-31 and the game was tied at 67 at the end of regulation. Michigan would outscore Oakland 14-4 down the stretch to take home what still wound up being a double-digit win.
Michigan was led by Isaiah Livers and his 22 points, while Hunter Dickinson had another great showing in his second game of the year. He finished with 19 points and four rebounds and the 0-4 Grizzlies had absolutely no answer for him.
Here are three quick observations from the game:
A sloppy, lethargic effort
The box score shows a victory, but this was not a good showing by any stretch of the imagination. The Wolverines were sloppy throughout the night, finishing the game with 20 turnovers and settling for some bad shots from the perimeter (8-for-27 from three). Frustrations boiled over at the end of the first half with Livers and Juwan Howard getting animated on the bench and the senior forward eventually tossed a Gatorade cooler when he was pulled out of the game.
Oakland’s zone defense gave Michigan problems all night long and they deserve credit for that, but this was an 0-3 basketball team. Michigan didn’t look ready to play at the end of the holiday weekend.
Hunter Dickinson needs to play
Daniel Dash will have more on his impact shortly, but he is Michigan’s best big man and it is not even close. His days coming off the bench are probably numbered and he looks more than ready to make an impact as a true freshman.
Oakland could not stop him and he probably needed more touches in the post. His chemistry with Terrance Williams is apparent and both of those guys had a big role to play in pulling Michigan out of a rut on Sunday night.
Things run more smoothly when Smith is out there
Many of Michigan’s struggles in this game came when when Mike Smith was not on the floor, as he dealt with foul trouble throughout the night. He only played five minutes in the first half and the team’s mental stability seemed to be on the fritz when he was not on the floor. There are other things to blame for how this game went, but Smith’s inability to play a huge role feels like it was a big reason why they struggled tonight.
Michigan has another three days off between games before hosting Ball State on Wednesday evening at Crisler Center. Tipoff in that game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast via Big Ten Network.