LeVert, Robinson lead Michigan to win at NC State
RALEIGH, N.C. — Caris LeVert can’t figure out why Michigan’s opponents keep leaving Duncan Robinson open.
Robinson hit five 3-pointers, LeVert flirted with a triple-double and the Wolverines beat North Carolina State 66-59 on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
”I know I’m surprised, because if we were playing against a guy like Duncan, we’d never leave him open,” LeVert said. ”That’s what we’d be preaching.”
LeVert had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and hit six free throws in the final minute to help seal the win, while Robinson finished with 17 points for the Wolverines (5-2).
Michigan shot 50 percent, built a 15-point lead and held on for its third straight win.
Caleb Martin scored 19 points and Anthony ”Cat” Barber had 16 for N.C. State (4-3), which shot 33 percent and had its two-game winning streak halted.
”We had one of those nights where we couldn’t seem to get the ball in the basket,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. ”A lot of that is on us. I don’t want to sit up here and act like they had nothing to do with it. … They did.”
The Wolfpack trailed 50-46 with the ball after forcing a Michigan turnover but freshman Shaun Kirk lost the handle in transition.
Robinson and Zak Irvin then hit 3s on consecutive possessions to put the Wolverines up by 10 with 6 1/2 minutes left.
N.C. State, which managed just three field goals in the final 7 minutes, never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Michigan, which shoots 44 percent from 3-point range — the eighth-best team in Division I — wasn’t quite that accurate, hitting 7 of 20. But some of them came at important times.
Robinson took a pretty kick-out feed from LeVert and buried a 3 from the left corner to put the Wolverines up 43-30 with 15 1/2 minutes left.
On their next trip down the court, LeVert took an alley-oop feed from Spike Albrecht and slammed it to make it a 15-point game.
Meanwhile Barber, a get-to-the-rim guard who has both taken and made the most free throws in Division I, was coming off a career-best 37 points against Winthrop four nights earlier in which he was 19 of 22 from the free-throw line.
He didn’t get to the line until the final minute and was 4 of 4 from the stripe against a Michigan team that’s annually one of the best in Division I at avoiding fouls.
”Our defense is developing, little by little,” coach John Beilein said.
Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. sprained his left ankle in the first half when a N.C. State player landed on him. Beilein described it as ”a slight sprain” and that it ”looks like it’s not going to be a long-range thing.” Walton, the team’s No. 2 scorer at 10.5 points per game, missed much of last season with injuries to his right foot. ”When I saw him over there, I said, `This can’t happen two times in a row,”’ Beilein said. ”I don’t care if it happens to me. I don’t want it to happen to him.”
Michigan: The Wolverines reeled off 10 straight points to take the only double-figure lead of the first half, going up 28-18 when LeVert blew by Wolfpack freshman Maverick Rowan for a layup with about 3 1/2 minutes left.
N.C. State: Barber matched a season low for free throw attempts, also getting to the line just four times in the season-opening loss to William & Mary. He had at least 11 free throw attempts in every other game.
Michigan plays host to Houston Baptist on Saturday.
N.C. State hosts Bucknell on Saturday.