The Michigan Wolverines (11-0) remain perfect after Saturday afternoon’s 70-62 win over the Western Michigan Broncos (5-5). Senior guard Charles Matthews shined scoring a team-high 25 points and pulling in 10 rebounds.
Three-Headed Offensive Attack
Through ten games the Wolverines had maintained a balanced offensive attack, but with Western Michigan’s tight defense in the post, changes needed to be made to score points. Michigan’s three starting guards took the game over scoring 54 of the team’s 70 points. The trio shot a combined 17-32 (53.1%) from field goal range and went 7-10 (70%) from behind the arc. Led by Charles Matthew’s first double-double of the season, Jordan Poole scored 14 and Zavier Simpson added 15 points to go along with his three rebounds and five assists. Luckily, the Wolverine guards came to play or else the Broncos would have pulled a shocking upset as 24.5 point underdogs.
Ignas Brazdeikis and Jon Teske struggled to get open throughout the entire game and failed to make a significant impact on both the offensive and defensive end as they have done so often this season. Brazdeikis finished with four points, one rebound, and was 2-7 shooting the ball. All three of those numbers were season-lows for the Lithuanian Canadian freshman. Big man Jon Teske struggled as well finishing with three points and six rebounds. Both Teske and Brazdeikis were kept scoreless in the first half and ended the game with three fouls each. Sixth man Isaiah Livers usually comes into the game and makes a difference when called upon, but he too struggled against the Broncos. Livers finished with three points, 1-6 from field goal range, and 0-4 from behind the arc in his 19 minutes of action. Brazeikis, Teske, and Livers went 4-17 (23.5%) in shooting combined. If Michigan wants to succeed in their tougher games, especially during Big Ten play, the Wolverines can’t afford this kind of lack of production from their forwards. There are no off days when you are at the top of college basketball and in the race to compete for a national championship. John Beilein needs to make sure that is a point of emphasis in practice going forward, especially in the mind of young freshman Ignas Brazdeikis.
Containing Opponent’s Star Player
The Michigan defense forced 16 turnovers, 10 of which were steals. John Beilein will definitely be proud of those numbers, but allowing one player to account for 50% of your opponent’s total points is a fact to be discussed. Western Michigan sophomore guard Michael Flowers finished with 31 points, both a career-high and game-high. Flowers went 10-11 from the free throw line as well. If you can’t stop a player, foul him right? The Wolverines need to make defensive adjustments, double-team or force more pressure to prevent a player from single-handedly putting his team on his back. Only recruited by middle-tier D1 schools out of Southfield, Michigan in 2017, maybe Michael Flowers was on a mission to prove a point, or make the Wolverine scouts regret not offering him out of high school. Regardless, the traditionally stingy Michigan defense should use Flowers’ dominant performance as a learning lesson.
Next up for Michigan is another home game against the Air Force Falcons (4-6) on Dec. 22 at 4 PM EST streaming on the Big Ten Network. Western Michigan will be traveling Dayton, Ohio to take on the Dayton Flyers (5-4) on Dec. 19.
The fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines are sure to move up in The AP Top 25 this week after fourth-ranked Gonzaga (9-2) lost by 13 points to twelfth-ranked North Carolina (8-2), a team that the Wolverines beat by 17 a few weeks ago. This week’s updated AP Poll will be released on Monday afternoon.