Robinson and junior guard Derrick Walton Jr. combined for 43 points Monday in the No. 24 Michigan men’s basketball team’s win over Elon, with 33 of those coming on 3-pointers. The offense shot 51.7 percent, and though it looked explosive at some times, it looked sloppy at others.
But the Wolverines didn’t have trouble dropping the Phoenix, 88-68, in a Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland Game just three days after defeating Northern Michigan.
Though Elon didn’t provide a true test of his team’s talent, the game gave Michigan coach John Beilein more time to work out his starting lineup.
On the first possession, sophomore forward Kameron Chatman threw the ball to an open Derrick Walton Jr. as the shot clock dwindled to four seconds. The junior guard threw it up from beyond the arc without hesitation, and the student section erupted as the Wolverines won an early lead 28 seconds into the game.
“(Walton) played great,” Robinson said. “That’s a big thing for him, just staying aggressive. That’s when he plays his best. He was finding people all over the floor and was really efficient at scoring the ball as well.”
But minutes later, the Wolverines went on a six-minute scoring drought to allow Elon to tie it up at 12, only to snap out of it by hitting their next three attempts.
Redshirt freshman D.J. Wilson ended the drought with a tip-in, and then, seconds later, Robinson scored his first points as a Wolverine with a dunk to get Michigan to a 16-15 lead. Robinson got the ball again after picking off an inbounds pass and fed it to sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who took it the length of the court for a layup.
There were still clumsy moments, though. Four minutes into the game, sophomore guard Aubrey Dawkins let the ball slip through his fingers and go out of bounds after LeVert threw it to him from half-court. LeVert was burned by Phoenix guard Steven Santa Ana, who stole the ball and drove it to the net for a layup. Elsewhere, junior big man Mark Donnal missed multiple shots from under the basket. Junior forward Zak Irvin played his first minutes since his early-September back surgery and went 0-for-5 from the floor. Michigan entered halftime with just a 10-point lead.
“The funny thing about Zak is that one shot doesn’t phase him, so until he gets his rhythm back, you can expect him to get ‘em up,” Walton said. “So we know we can expect him to make the right play, but until then, we’re trying to get him back to a rhythm to find his niche and get his condition back.”
The Wolverines came out of the locker room on a 10-0 run by correcting some of those mistakes and continuing what they had been doing well. Walton and Robinson had more 3-pointers, and LeVert had two monster dunks. Forward Ricky Doyle came in and outplayed Donnal by making all three of his second-half shots and looking more composed on the defensive end.
“(Elon) played a really, really fast pace,” Robinson said. “From that standpoint, we definitely have a lot of room to grow defensively, just being a little bit closer in communication, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.”
In a high-scoring game where Walton led with 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds, Beilein took full advantage of his team’s depth. Against Northern Michigan, Dawkins and LeVert led the charge, but against Elon, it was Walton and Robinson.
“I mean, any night it could be anyone else, which is a great quality to have in a team,” Robinson said. “We all know that. Last Friday, everyone was excited for those two, and tonight, everyone’s excited for us. It’s whoever can get it done on a given night.”