After suffering an ankle injury against Texas in their last game, Moe Wagner did not suit up for the Wolverines in their game against Detroit Mercy at the new Little Caesars Arena. However, as I indicated before, if Michigan wanted to be cautious with their star player, these next three games over two weeks would be a perfect time to give him rest and make sure he is healthy when the Wolverines enter Big Ten conference play. Michigan did just that, and there was absolutely no drop off today, as the Maize and Blue would cruise to a 90-58 win over the Titans.
Without Wagner in the lineup, Jon Teske was given the starting nod and put forth his best game of the season. The big man would finish with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. He was especially effective around the offensive glass, collecting 6 offensive boards. He also recorded his second career double-double to boot. Not having Wagner to rely on gave Teske an opportunity to be more aggressive and show Coach Beilein that he is capable of anchoring the middle for the Wolverines.
For much of the first half, it was Michigan’s second unit doing all of the damage against the Titans. Zavier Simpson recorded 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. The sophomore has really shown improvement in the last few games. Freshman Jordan Poole would finish with 12 off of the bench as well. Charles Matthews had a very quiet first half, with just two points, but would take charge in the second half to record 20 points, as well as 7 rebounds.
As for Michigan’s other regular scorers, Duncan Robinson was able to get his shooting going, which is a good sign. He connected on three of four three point attempts and would finish with 11 points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, coming off his great game against Texas, was not needed to lead the team to the win this time out, scoring just two points in the contest.
The Wolverines were able to outplay the Titans in just about every facet of the game. Michigan would go 11-23 from beyond the arc, good for 47.8% and 47.2% shooting overall. They held the Titans to 31.3% from three and 33.3% from the floor. In terms of rebounding – something Michigan sometimes struggles with – the Wolverines were all over the glass. They out-rebounded Detroit 44 to 37, and managed to collect 15 offensive boards. Michigan recorded 19 assists, while the Titans had just 6. Finally, as is usual, Michigan took care of the ball, with just 9 turnovers, while forcing Detroit to cough the ball up a whopping 23 times.
Although such a resounding win does not always benefit a team, this game helped give Michigan’s second unit some valuable experience, especially Teske. Michigan‘s bench, their freshman in particular, keep on improving every game. During conference play, it is inevitable that injuries or foul trouble will force these players into more minutes than Beilein may originally have planned. Getting extended minutes now will allow those players to feel a lot more comfortable if they end up hearing their number called later in the season.
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