Men's Basketball

Freshman wing Franz Wagner and the Michigan men's basketball team have played much better defensively of late.

When any team is searching for its identity, it deals in moments.

Freshman wing Franz Wagner has averaged 13.8 points over his last four games, helping lead Michigan to a five-game win streak.

A year ago, Wagner was a 17-year-old playing professional basketball in a country over 4,000 miles away. Then, right before making a life-altering decision, the coach he’d communicated with for years picked up and left town. Within two months, the new coach secured his commitment anyway, undoubtedly with some help from big brother. Then, right before a freshman season that could’ve vaulted him to the NBA, Wagner, bearing a reputation as a deadeye shooter, broke his shooting wrist.

Senior center Jon Teske held Purdue’s Trevion Edwards to 18 points Saturday afternoon in Michigan’s 71-63 win.

Center Jon Teske’s teammates nicknamed him Big Sleep. It’s a reflection of the seven-foot senior’s quiet demeanor off the court. But recently, he’s been relatively quiet on the court as well. Going into the Michigan men’s basketball team’s game at Purdue on Saturday, Teske averaged just over five points a game over the previous five games, shooting just 28 percent from the field. It’s a significant drop-off for someone who averaged 14 points a game over the first nine games of the season.

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Over the course of their latest five-game winning streak, the Wolverines have showcased their depth.
The usual suspects of Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks have all had their moments — Simpson’s four 3-pointers against Michigan State, Livers’ 17-point outing against Northwestern and Brooks’ three double-digit scoring efforts.

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In their fifth straight win, Michigan men’s basketball beat Purdue on the road, 71-63.

Spurred by junior forward Isaiah Livers’s return from an ankle injury, the Wolverine’s won on the road, marking their longest winning streak since the beginning of the season with seven straight victories.

Senior guard Zavier Simpson is shooting 37 percent on 3-pointers this season, up from 28.5 percent in his career.

Simpson — assuredly not known for his shooting prowess — has been trapped between the decision to take the open 3-point shot or carry on with one of many other options that he is more comfortable with, including driving to the hoop or finding another open man. But in an unexpected development, the veteran guard has added an effective 3-point shot to his arsenal, elevating the Wolverines’ offense. The senior made this addition even more apparent on Wednesday, when he hit two threes in the opening four minutes to ignite Michigan’s offense in its eventual 60-52 win over Rutgers.

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Leading up to Wednesday, Castleton had played just five minutes over the Wolverines’ last three games. But when Michigan needed a second-half spark against Rutgers, coach Juwan Howard called his number. Castleton delivered a timely and-one layup and a much-needed defensive presence, propelling the Wolverines to a 60-52 victory.

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The process of breaking that standoff wasn’t pretty, but even without leading scorer, Isaiah Livers, the Michigan men’s basketball team (17-9 overall, 8-7 Big Ten) held on to beat Rutgers (18-9, 9-7), 60-52, undaunted in a hostile environment.

Junior guard Eli Brooks has helped lead Michigan's late-season surge.

Since Michigan’s victory over Nebraska and Isaiah Livers’ return, the Wolverines have been on a tear — reminiscent of its early season success.

Senior point guard Zavier Simpson scored 12 points and added 11 assists in Sunday’s  89-65 win over Indiana.

Zavier Simpson took the ball up the court to kick things off against Indiana on Sunday. But, fairly uncharacteristically, Simpson attempted to find his man on the right side only to see the ball land squarely in the hands of a Hoosier. Rather than follow up Indiana’s opening bucket with a couple points of his own, Simpson was staring down a turnover and a less-than-ideal start. But that would be one of his only mistakes all afternoon.