Facing a North Florida squad that was coming off a beating at the hands of Michigan State the night before, Michigan found the Ospreys giving rather unexpected resistance for most of their game tonight. After a poor shooting first half, the Wolverines were able to catch fire in the second half to pull away in the last ten minutes for an 86-66 win.
For much of the first half, Michigan and North Florida traded buckets. The Ospreys had the largest lead of either team for the first thirty minutes of the game, with a seven point lead midway through the first half. The Wolverines couldn’t buy a bucket before the break, shooting just 38% and going three of twelve from long range. Defense kept them within striking distance as they earned fourteen points off of 14 North Florida turnovers.
With eleven minutes remaining in the game, it looked like the Wolverines were going to have quite the battle on their hands to start the season. However, Duncan Robinson would hit a three pointer to give Michigan a 49-47 lead and the Wolverines finally started seeing their shots fall. A few more Wolverine triples, a handful of fast break points by Michigan and they quickly saw their small lead balloon to twenty points in a matter of minutes. What had been a back and forth affair for most of the night, the Wolverines turned into a comfortable win in the end.
Michigan was able to shoot 54% in the second half and made six of their thirteen three pointers. Just like the first half, they were able to create buckets from turnovers. North Florida would end the game with 24 turnovers and Michigan earned 28 points off of them. Wagner said Michigan was making sure to get in the passing lanes and deflect passes to get those turnovers. Coach Beilien believed the reason UNF made eight threes was that the Wolverines “over-helped on defense” and opened those shots up for their opponents.
Wagner, Matthews, and Robinson were all adamant after the game that they were not looking past the Ospreys. They didn’t see this team as one they would “roll over from the beginning.” When I asked Matthews if nerves played a part in their slow start he said it wasn’t for him. They were getting looks, but their shots just weren’t falling early on. Wagner believed North Florida was just making tough shots early.
Beilein believed it was good, “in hindsight,” that they had this close of a game early. He didn’t enjoy it while it was close, but it was a great learning experience for the young team. By scheduling tougher mid-major teams, Beilein hopes that his team continues to learn and grow throughout the season.
-Every single Wolverine who saw the floor tonight scored a basket. Robinson led the team with 21, Charles Matthews was right behind him with 20, and Moe Wagner had 18.
-Wagner collected a double-double in the first game of the season, with 12 rebounds to go with his 18 points. That was his second double-double of his Michigan career.
-Once again, Michigan was able to pile up the assists, having 21 of them on 33 made shots. Zavier Simpson led the team with nine.
-Michigan gave up zero second chance points after giving up eighteen in the exhibition. Robinson said after the game that denying those opportunities and rebounding was an emphasis in practice this week. He feels the need to step up and get rebounds this season, since he is a “taller and older guy on the team.”
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