Even without Moe Wagner, Michigan rolls over Detroit Mercy 90-58
DETROIT (AP) — With its top big man out injured, Michigan overwhelmed Detroit Mercy with defense and outside shooting.
Charles Matthews had 20 points and seven rebounds, and the Wolverines went on a 19-0 run in the first half on the way to a 90-58 rout of the Titans on Saturday. Michigan was without big man Moe Wagner, who sat out with a sprained ankle, but the Wolverines made 11 3-pointers, and their defense held Detroit Mercy to 33 percent shooting from the field.
“Just our effort level I think, and our focus on that end has been huge over these last couple games,” forward Duncan Robinson said. “Seeing that success and having some success watching the opponents’ field goal percentage go down is encouraging.”
Zavier Simpson added 12 points and seven assists for Michigan, and Robinson scored 11 points, all in the first half. Jon Teske started in place of Wagner and had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wolverines led 54-19 at halftime in the opener of a doubleheader of in-state teams at Little Caesars Arena. The second game pitted No. 2 Michigan State against Oakland.
The Wolverines (10-3) raced out to an early lead, taking a 16-4 advantage on Jordan Poole’s dunk, and Detroit Mercy’s problems were only beginning. A layup by Jaleel Hogan of the Titans (4-7) made it 23-13, but Michigan scored the next 19 points, including 3-pointers by Eli Brooks, Robinson, Simpson, Ibi Watson and Robinson again.
Robinson entered shooting 32 percent from 3-point range, uncharacteristically low for him. He went 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in this game.
Kameron Chatman, who used to play at Michigan, led the Titans with 18 points.
“I was mainly trying to get the win with my team, but it was pretty good to go back at `em,” Chatman said.
Detroit Mercy: Titans coach Bacari Alexander was an assistant at Michigan under John Beilein, but his familiarity and Chatman’s were of little use. The Titans were huge underdogs to begin with, and they caught Michigan on a day when the Wolverines were making their 3s.
“Michigan is not traditionally scoutable in a sense that, everything that they do in their motion-based, read-based offense is audible-based,” Alexander said. “So every denial that you do, there’s a counter to that.”
Michigan: The Wolverines came into the game shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc — not a stellar number for a team that relies on the 3-pointer as much as Michigan. Saturday’s performance was encouraging from that standpoint. Michigan went 9 of 15 in the first half and finished 11 of 23.
Michigan finished with only nine turnovers and Detroit Mercy had 23. Beilein was pleased with the defensive performance after the team had been dealing with a lot of adversity and uncertainty. He said Matthews’ grandmother died, and he arrived about a half-hour before the game.
Even comparatively trivial issues like Wagner’s injury and Robinson’s bout with laryngitis could have been problematic.
“Yesterday, trying to call ball-screen coverage when you can’t talk — it was hilarious. Nobody knew what was going on,” Beilein said. “And so, I’m really proud of these guys the way they came out and defended.”
Alexander did not have any details to share in response to a Detroit Free Press report in which a parent of a player accused him of making a vulgar comment and gesture toward the player. Alexander recently returned from a seven-game absence, with the school saying little about why he was gone.
“My statement would be, simply: We have already handled the matter and got it behind us,” Alexander said. “We’re just kind of moving forward.”
Detroit Mercy: The Titans host East Tennessee State on Tuesday night.
Michigan: The Wolverines continue this easier stretch in their schedule when they host Alabama A&M on Thursday night.