That win had to feel good for Juwan Howard and company.
The Michigan Wolverines got a resounding win at home Saturday night, trouncing the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah, 87-50. They did a lot of good things, especially on offense, to lead to the blowout win. Fans should hope that success carries over to future games.
Here are a few takeaways from the thrashing of the Thunderbirds.
This was a get-right game, and good things happen when you make your threes
This game was much-needed for Michigan’s confidence, especially from deep.
can michigan shoot over 40% from 3 all the time please— Scotty White (@scottywhite_) December 19, 2021
The Wolverines have shot 19% combined from three of their four losses, so it was nice to see them double that mark from beyond the arc in this victory.
You’ll win a lot of games if you simply knock down your open threes, which has been easier said than done for the Wolverines this year.
Michigan got a lot of open looks from deep thanks to excellent spacing and playing with confidence after making their first few threes.
The Wolverines seem to have found some ideal lineup combinations, as they only had two of Hunter Dickinson, Moussa Diabate, Brandon Johns Jr. and Terrance Williams on the floor for most of the game, which created a lot of space and subsequently created open shots.
With the offense looking lethargic at times this year, it was nice to see them get a lot of baskets from swinging the ball and finding guys cutting to the rim.
Blowout wins like this can provide a bit of a confidence boost, especially for an offense that has looked stagnant way too often this year. Let’s hope the Wolverines build upon their success in this game and continue to play with confidence when they have the ball.
This is the DeVante’ Jones we need to see every game
Jones has been a frustrating player to watch at this times this season, but he was playing his best brand of basketball against Southern Utah, looking like the point guard Michigan fans dreamed he would be.
The Coastal Carolina transfer started out the game on fire, starting off 3-for-3 from three and pouring in all of his 13 points in the first half while sitting out a decent chunk of the final 20 minutes.
Say what you want about Jones’ mental lapses, but the way he attacks the basket like a running back bursting through an open hole is truly remarkable. His speed on his first step alone is lethal enough to get him a few buckets at the rim every game.
He played very poised on both ends of the floor, and has taken care of the rock as of late, as he’s only had two turnovers in the past two games to go along with 18 assists. He still needs to avoid dumb fouls and still makes a few defensive mistakes rotation-wise. but this version of Jones offensively is exactly what Michigan needs to get them through scoring lapses.
Michigan fans can’t expect Jones to make all his threes in every game but if he can continue to play with discipline on both ends of the floor, his veteran presence can help Michigan when they restart conference play.
How Michigan can build on this win on both ends
As successful as the Wolverines were in this one, it’s important to remember the Thunderbirds — despite having a truly badass mascot — will be one of the worst teams Michigan faces all year.
It was good to see Michigan do well on offense after struggling in so many games to get open looks and make shots this year, but so many of the buckets were effortless, either on easy put-backs on offensive rebounds where Dickinson and Diabate looked like varsity guys scrimmaging against freshman or simply finding the guy cutting near the basket.
Dickinson had 22 points and could do whatever he wanted against an undersized Southern Utah squad, but I especially loved the way the Wolverines were feeding him for easy buckets off dunks that got the crowd alive.
Michigan was also very sound defensively, making smart rotations and forcing the Thunderbirds to take a lot of tough shots. They also flashed that 3/4 quarter press a few times, which has been effective with teams who lack a steady guard presence. I’d love to see the Wolverines use that press more in Big Ten play, as having Diabate’s length and energy at the front of it can lead to a few key turnovers.
This won’t be a game on their NCAA Tournament resume, but they need to learn from this win and continue to do the things that led to the blowout victory: space the floor well, find open shots, play with confidence, force tough shots and never take the foot off the gas.
This was truly a get-right game for the Wolverines. Let’s hope they can build on this success and continue to iron out their flaws before facing Rutgers and Michigan State to kick off a tough January slate.