AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Midway through the second half of the Michigan basketball team’s matchup with Oakland on Saturday afternoon, freshman point guard Trey Burke reached in on an Oakland ballhandler and picked up his third foul of the contest.
Following the whistle, sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz ran over to have a small talk with the frustrated youngster.
“I was just telling him that I have a bad habit of reaching, too,” Smotrycz said after the game. “I’ll play great ‘D,’ and then start reaching toward the end of the game, and that’s what he did on that possession.”
And Smotrycz proved that he’s still not past committing unnecessary fouls. Though he fouled Oakland just twice in the 90-80 win, one of them came just 30 seconds after consoling Burke, when he wound up awkwardly bear-hugging an opponent going for a rebound.
“Personally, I’ve had some trouble with fouls, and I’ve been trying to make a point of that on defense,” Smotrycz said.
By the end of the game, Michigan (7-2) had committed a season-high 24 fouls, with Burke and senior guard Zack Novak leading the way with four apiece. And Oakland capitalized by tallying 20 points from the free-throw line — Grizzly point guard Reggie Hamilton was an impressive 12-for-12 from the charity stripe.
“(Hamilton) has almost made as many foul shots as our whole team has made,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “So he’s very good at getting to the foul line. Our foul trouble in the first half let them sneak in.”
The Wolverines also struggled to hold onto the ball, turning it over a season-high 17 times.
With eight minutes to play in the first half, Michigan held a commanding 14-point lead and all of the momentum. But sloppy play led to seven turnovers in those final eight minutes, allowing Oakland to tie the game, 32-32, by halftime.
“It wasn’t Michigan basketball,” said senior guard Stu Douglass. “We had that bad stretch there in the first half. It was just not a complete game like we wanted. … A win is better than a loss, but at the same time, we’re going to learn a lot from this game.”
Added Beilein: “I’m going to look at the film on that … but I was really disappointed with a couple of shots and some turnovers in the first half.
“We felt in transition offense, we would look for one thing, but if it wasn’t there, we were going to bring the ball back and make them guard us a little bit. When we didn’t do that, that’s a thing we’ve got to shore up.”
Not all of the season highs from Saturday’s game were disappointments. Michigan scored a season-high 15 3-pointers, en route to a season-high 90 points. The 58 points in the second half were a season high as well.
Smotrycz and Burke notched their career-high scoring marks, each registering 20 points.
But the Wolverines would prefer not having to score 90 points to beat opponents. Indeed, the outcome of the contest could have been entirely different had Michigan not shot a blistering 63 percent from 3-point range in the second half.
“If we weren’t so careless, we probably would have been up 8 or 9 (at the half), and maybe it was good,” Beilein said. “It really woke us up to what it’s like to play in a game like this where it’s up and down, up and down, if you don’t value your possession.”
Michigan returns to Crisler Arena to open up a five-game homestand on Tuesday. The first three of those games will be the final tune-ups before the Wolverines open Big Ten play against visiting Penn State.
For those three games, Beilein will look for his team to practice the fundamentals and return to “Michigan basketball.”