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Takeaways from Michigan’s win over Lipscomb

This one was WAY too close for comfort.

NCAA Basketball: Lipscomb at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Much like the win over Ohio about a month ago, the Michigan Wolverines barely hang on and win a game that was supposed to be a blowout, as they defeated Lipscomb, 83-75.

Entering this game, the Bisons were 7-4 and currently third in the ASUN, behind Queens University and Florida Gulf Coast. They aren’t a slouch in their conference by any means, but this is not a team that should be taking the lead in the second half against a Michigan team with this much talent.

Here are some takeaways from the win that was WAY too close for comfort.

Defensively, there’s still a LOT of work to be done

While Michigan did hold a double-digit lead for a large portion of this one, Lipscomb kept things within a few possessions a lot in the first half, shooting 51.6% from the field and 40% from three in those first 20 minutes. They hung around before eventually taking the lead thanks to poor defense and another bad showing on the boards for Michigan.

Lipscomb stayed hot in the second half and kept hitting open threes and corralling offensive rebounds for more chances to score.

For a team with an All-American center, Michigan isn’t good right now when it comes to rebounding. Lipscomb matched it on the boards in the second half, had more offensive rebounds (7-4) and got a huge advantage off second-chance points (11-0)

Michigan could have put this one away if they could have strung together more stops, but didn’t execute on that end of the floor. The Wolverines seemed a little lost and didn’t close out on shooters well.

Props to Will Pruitt (27 points, 5-of-10 from three) for taking advantage of Michigan’s lackluster defense and helping Lipscomb lead this one for just over seven game minutes.

As a team, Michigan still struggles with rotating with heavy ball movement, and the Bisons took advantage of that throughout. Michigan had enough offensive talent to close this one out, but this defense needs to improve before the Wolverines hit the Big Ten gauntlet after New Year’s Eve.

A real nice showing offensively for Kobe Bufkin

While he didn’t have his best game defensively, Bufkin had a real nice performance on the offensive end, scoring a career-high 22 points while going 8-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from three.

Bufkin took over ball-handling duties when Dug McDaniel was out of the game, and he has looked more comfortable in that role. He’s clearly more confident, and as I wrote about earlier this week, he’s improved in so many ways offensively since last year.

Bufkin was Michigan’s leading scorer, and if he can reliably score 10-14 points a game while making threes, the Wolverines have found their third scorer behind Hunter Dickinson (15 points, seven rebounds) and Jett Howard (19 points, four assists).

Dug McDaniel made some clutch buckets down the stretch

Even though McDaniel didn’t score nearly as much as he did against Minnesota, he made shots when it mattered in this one, and actually led the Wolverines with eight rebounds (it’s never a great sign when your point guard leads your team in rebounds, but at least he is grabbing them).

McDaniel had seven points in the narrow win, with all those points coming in the final four minutes in this one. He knocked down 3-of-4 free throw attempts late, and Michigan was able to ice this game thanks to two jumpers from him and one from Dickinson.

McDaniel was a part of this team’s defensive struggles, but hitting clutch shots to clinch a win is a confidence boost for any young guard, especially one who was coming off the bench two weeks ago.

What’s next

Before Big Ten starts up again for the Wolverines, they have two more games: a road matchup with North Carolina on the 21st, and a home game against Central Michigan on the 29th.

It would be really nice for the Wolverines to win both of those games, but more importantly, they HAVE to improve defensively and rebound better before they hit the grind that is Big Ten play