DETROIT — The game started tight. A mix of an extended rotation and a lack of shot making from Michigan kept Wayne State and its fans invested. Every made shot from a Warrior resulted in an eruption of voices.
But then, sophomore center Hunter Dickinson stepped back onto the court. You could see how Wayne State — a team with its tallest player standing at 6-foot-10 — could have an issue with that. The six point game quickly snowballed into a 15 point game on the back of 10 straight points from Dickinson.
The Wolverines never looked back as they won the exhibition game against Wayne State, 87-54.
The first 10 minutes of game time were tightly contested. A little over nine minutes into the game an and-one layup by Wayne State guard Darian Owens-White brought the Warriors within one.
But, the tight game was short lived, a 31-7 run from Michigan over the final 10 minutes gave the Wolverines a commanding 48-21 lead at the half.
The second half was more of the same story. The Wolverines came out and tried to dictate the game once again.
That happened early, a steal leading into transition layup from graduate guard Devante’ Jones followed a few minutes later by a lob from Jones to Dickinson set the tone.
The rotations were just as free-flowing as in the first half.
Sophomore forward Terrance Williams II and freshman forward Moussa Diabate made instant impacts off the bench. A turnaround jumper from WIlliams that extended the lead to 34 and a spinning layup in the lane from Diabate, each got the crowd into the game.
Williams ended the game with eight points and Diabate ended with a tie for team high 14 points, but also four turnovers.
Turnovers were one of the main problems throughout the game for Michigan, which tallied 17. But, coach Juwan Howard wasn’t too concerned.
“I was expecting more in the 20s (turnovers),” Howard said, laughing. “It’s your first game, your first time playing in front of a crowd.”
Rebounding was another struggle for the Wolverines. But, this one was less of a laughing matter.
“That cannot happen,” Howard said. “We cannot have a recipe of giving up that many offensive rebounds in any league, whether that’s non-conference or Big Ten.”
On the defensive end everyone who contributed — as everyone had to after their lackluster rebounding and giving up the ball so many times. Six different Wolverines recorded blocks, and five recorded steals. It was their defensive intensity and connectedness that held Wayne State to 28% from the field.
And, with the backups in and the game secured, Howard stood, arms crossed near center court as Bufkin dribbled out the clock. While this was just an exhibition against a division two school, the Wolverines were still happy with the result. But, they still know there’s room to grow.
“I think that, no disrespect to (Wayne State), but we’re going to play better teams,” Diabate said. “We’re going to have to be a lot more focused and locked into the details.”