True freshman center Hunter Dickinson led all scorers with a career-high 20 points with 7 rebounds while guard Eli Brooks chipped in with 12 points.
At one point, it looked like Michigan was ready to cruise in this win, up 36-21 late in the first half. Some poor decisions and lapses allowed Penn State to get back into the game. The Nittany Lions refused to go away and looked like they were ready to grab a victory in Ann Arbor for the second season in a row, but Michigan was able to make enough plays late to hold off the upset and stay undefeated through six games.
Here are some quick takeaways from the contest.
Dickinson is Michigan’s best player right now
Forget that he is a freshman. Forget that he is a center still finding his way. Dickinson at the moment is the best player the Wolverines have through six contests and has been their most consistent player. He finally nabbed his first start of the season, albeit in the form of replacing an injured Austin Davis, and did exactly what he has been doing all season. There were a few sequences where he struggled on defense, which we are going to see more of in conference play, but he was tremendous once again and Penn State did not have an answer for him.
Put some respect on Brooks
Brooks has very quietly been the most well-rounded player on the roster this year and his defensive prowess was once again on display, especially on the final possession of the game with a chance to close out the game. Juwan Howard made him the third captain on the team this week with Davis out injured, which gives you a sense of just how valued he is in that locker room.
Timely plays, decisions down the stretch
Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers will get some heat for some box scores that do not look all that impressive, but their biggest impact came down the stretch. Wagner had a block in the last couple of minutes of play, while Livers sunk two free throws late to ice the victory. Michigan is going to need more out of those guys moving forward, but each of them still had their fingerprints on the victory in another “all hands on deck” effort from Howard’s Wolverines.
Michigan is now off for 12 days, pending a scheduled game being thrown in somewhere, before a Christmas Day trip to Nebraska.