The only thing ever in doubt was the margin of victory.
Michigan was up by six points just over two minutes in, then it was up by 15 before the 12-minute mark of the first half. By the end of the game, it was 28, as the ninth-ranked Wolverines (6-0) pummeled Tennessee-Chattanooga (2-5), 83-55.
This was a guarantee game’s guarantee game. The spread was 32 points — and the slow march to see if Michigan would cover started early.
A 10-0 run from the Wolverines that started with an and-1 finish from junior center Jon Teske and closed with a hook shot from his backup, redshirt sophomore Austin Davis, had Michigan in front, 21-6, eight minutes into the game.
The Mocs stuck around a little longer, cutting the lead to 10 at various points in the first 20 minutes, but the Wolverines stayed firmly in control. Defensively, Michigan made Chattanooga its sixth straight opponent to score less than 0.9 points per possession.
Ignas Brazdeikis provided the dagger — if you can call a 3-pointer to make it a 17-point game with 3:51 in the first half such a thing. His defender sagging off as Brazdeikis held the ball at the key, the freshman forward stared him down, pulled up and hit the jumper.
After the game, sophomore guard Jordan Poole was asked whether he was impressed with Brazdeikis thus far. He gave a polite laugh.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s balling,” Poole said. “He’s a freshman. A lot of the guys did the same thing with me last year. He’s definitely doing good right now from the rebounds to being aggressive in the paint. Definitely adds an extra dynamic to our team.”
One of Michigan’s primary scorers thus far, Brazdeikis finished with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, leading the team in scoring, along with seven rebounds.
By the time the horn sounded for the end of the first half, the Wolverines were up 20 and the only question left was how much time the reserves would see. When sophomore guard Eli Brooks hit a pair of free throws with 10:24 left in the game to put Michigan up by 30, that question became one of when John Beilein would call off the dogs.
As North Carolina and Purdue loom in the week ahead, the blowout win doesn’t mean much.
“I still think, right now, the ball isn’t moving the way it needs to move,” Beilein said. “And that everybody’s trying to sort this thing out — ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been a hunter all my life and now it’s my turn to hunt all the time.’ And then you got five hunters out there, that doesn’t work very good. We have all people that are looking to hunt, but are ready to share the ball very, very quickly if we’re going to score.
“And then turning around defensively, that’s our only hope, is that we be consistent with our defense. That team making that many 3s today (nine) — that should not have happened today.”
If the casual fan is watching the end of a guarantee game, something has gone terribly wrong. Of course, it never got to that point — or particularly close. Just like its last three victories, Michigan never trailed.
“I think we’re ok,” Beilein said. “I don’t think we’re this juggernaut. I think that we’re just — we’re ok. And we’re gonna keep growing. … We don’t have that type of experience yet to just say, ‘Ok, watch out. Here comes Michigan.’ ”
Through six games, the results beg to differ.