After last weekend’s debacle against Minnesota, which desperately needed a better show, Michigan faced an overmatched and severely undersized Southern Utah team on Saturday night. They were displayed so much better, on both ends of the floor. To be clear, Southern Utah is not a good basketball team nationally and this game will not be featured on Michigan’s tournament replay. But the Thunderbirds aren’t abject either, the anticipated Big Sky preseason favorites and KenPom only saw this as a Michigan game for 14. So for the Wolverines to win 37 is a welcome step in the right direction before the holidays. no matter how small that step is.
The first 5.5 minutes were close, as Michigan led only 11-10 at the time, on a three-pointer by Dre Marin. After that it was no longer closed. The Wolverines put in a run of fourteen points and seized the game fairly quickly. Before you could blink it was 31-14 and then 45-16. Cumulatively, it was a 34-6 piece that lasted more than twelve minutes of playing time. Michigan led 29 at halftime and the game never got closer than a 27-point margin in the second half. It was complete and total domination by the home side in white.
Michigan’s start to the game was fueled by a fine piece of basketball from DeVante’ Jones, who went 5/6 of the field with six rebounds, three assists and just one turnover. There’s not much that can be read from this performance due to Southern Utah’s small size, but if there’s one thing to be genuinely encouraged about, it’s that the transfer went PG 3/3 from outside the arc.
A nice outing from Jones [Campredon]
As Jones’ impact faded, Hunter Dickinson stepped into the limelight with a dominating performance, as expected, against a team that didn’t have a player taller than six feet. The sophomore center racked up 22 points in 27 minutes on an incredibly efficient 11/15 out of the field, and 11/13 out of two (!).
Once Michigan took control of the game, the bigger story became the contributions of some bank pieces rarely seen in other games, most notably Zeb Jackson and Kobe Bufkin. Jackson looked sharp in his 14 minutes, with 8 points at 3/4 of the field, including both threes he tried to drink. It’s been an erratic season for Jackson, but those kinds of outings will do a lot to gain Juwan Howard’s trust. Bufkin went off for three, but was efficient inside the arc, scoring 11 points in 18 minutes.
The rest of the scoresheet is quite varied, with almost everyone getting involved in a game so offensively explosive. Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan scored 8 and 9 points respectively. Frankie Collins had five, but came up short in a potentially thrilling alley-oop attempt. Brandon Johns Jr., Terrance Williams II and Eli Brooks each had a few points, while Brooks’ performance was rather muted despite playing 24 minutes. The waste time team also got involved as Jaron Faulds, Jace Howard and Adrien Nuñez all saw the floor in the game’s waning moments.
Hello Kobe! [Campredon]
All in all, it was a clearly dominant attack from the Wolverines. Michigan shot 56% from the floor, 39% from three, and scored on 1.26 points per possession. As great as the offensive was, defensively it was almost as dominant. Michigan had a Utah Southern team that had scored 70+ in each of its other two games against KP top 100 teams to just 50 on 33% of the field and 17% of three with 0.72 points per possession. A very strong game altogether.
Michigan has one game left until the holiday break, back Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against Purdue Fort-Wayne, who is (according to the KP rankings) the worst team Michigan will see all season. It’s poised to be another easy win before the Wolverines’ improvements are tested in Orlando against UCF on December 30. Tuesday’s game is at home and on the Big Ten Network.
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