If there was a game for the Wolverines to lose, this was it. It took only minutes for Michigan (15-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) to prove otherwise, and minutes more for the Wolverines to put a nail in the coffin of No. 21 Indiana (12-3, 3-1) on their way to a 15th-straight win.
“We came out of a lot of games that weren't in conference play and they were a bit weaker competition,” said freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis on Thursday. “It’s a bit of an adjustment for us to get used to this kind of play again.”
Sunday’s game against No. 21 Indiana will put this argument to the test.
In the first half, even when his shots weren’t falling, Brazdeikis did everything else on the court. He locked down Penn State forward Lamar Stevens, who got just 17 points off 44 touches. He helped facilitate the offense. And he filled in on rebounding — an area that’s normally Livers’ specialty.
Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis dropped 17 and 16 points, respectively, combining for 21 in the second half, and the Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 14-0 overall) pulled away for an 68-55 win over the Nittany Lions (0-3, 7-7 overall) in their first game of 2019.
Penn State is the kind of team that plays tough in every game. Chambers has run all kinds of creative defenses, from a stifling three-quarter court trap to zone to plain old man, that could give Michigan fits.
Back in November, when Michigan was blowing out top-ranked teams, John Beilein continually warned that they were just, “November wins.” If the Wolverines continue to play at their current level in the Big Ten, he’ll be proven right.
It was halftime and John Beilein was at a loss. The Michigan men’s basketball coach couldn’t draw up any new plays for his team, which was leading by just five against Binghamton (4-12) .And though it took longer than it should have against a team no one viewed as a threat Michigan eventually found a groove and ended 2018 with a 74-52 win.
Tasked with manning the ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’ positions at various times in John Beilein’s complex system, Livers has averaged 7.2 points while shooting 46.8 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Brooks has spelled both Simpson and Jordan Poole in the backcourt, scoring 4.4 points per game with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.3 to 1.