The Michigan Wolverines had the fight taken to them over the weekend at Minnesota in their first loss of the year, but they were not about to let that happen again. That anger and frustration was taken out on the visiting Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday night in an 87-63 victory for the home team at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
Senior forward Isaiah Livers led the team with 20 points on an efficient 5-of-8 (4-of-5 from three) shooting performance, while Franz Wagner and Mike Smith 15 and 11 points of their own, respectively.
The Wolverines set a tone on both ends of the floor from the tip of the basketball on Tuesday, scoring the first eight points of the game and never looking back. They would go into the locker room up 42-25 and never took their foot off the gas, leading by as many as 25 in the second half before emptying the bench and sealing the victory.
The biggest takeaway from the game was what happens when a team puts all of its eggs in the “stop Hunter Dickinson” basket. The true freshman had a rough outing with only three points on the night and was not much of a factor, but what we saw was an offense that took advantage of the extra attention its talent big man was getting.
This allowed Michigan to burn the Terrapins from beyond the arc, making 12 threes on 24 attempts in the game. Both Livers and Wagner had extremely efficient games, while Smith got Michigan going with nine of the team’s first 11 points. The trio was essentially a non-factor in Saturday’s loss at Minnesota but responded exactly the way you would hope after a bad outing.
Eli Brooks was back from a foot injury after missing Saturday’s game and quietly showed why he is so important to this team on both ends of the floor. He consistently erases the other team’s best guard while stepping up to score when the opportunities present themselves. The loss at Minnesota was bad across the board, but there were big effects on Juwan Howard’s rotations without him. It just goes to show how much of a difference and stabilizing presence he is.
The bench was strong with a combined 20 points from Brandon Johns Jr. (11) and Austin Davis (9). If you can add that type of production to what you are already getting out of Chaudnee Brown as your sixth man, it just adds to the waves that this group came come at you with.
Overall, it was a strong showing and another in a long list of games like this that Michigan has played this year. It says a lot about a team after another dominant effort starts to get a little bit boring. We are not inviting heart attacks over here, but an increased pulse now and then might not be a bad idea, either!
Next up for Michigan is a trip to Purdue on Friday night, which should provide another interesting road test for this team. What follows will be eight days off before hosting Indiana on Jan. 30.