Coming into Saturday’s game, Alabama A&M hadn’t played for 14 days. And the Michigan men’s basketball team did its best to make that show.

The Wolverines (9-2) pushed the ball, beat Alabama A&M (2-4) down the floor and ran them out of the gym in an 87-57 win at Crisler Arena.

Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz flashed his versatility by pulling down a career-high 11 rebounds, making three 3-pointers and converting 6-of-7 free throws attempts. His 17 points capped his first double-double.

“I’ve kind of been hovering around (a double-double) for a little bit and I didn’t want to end up with anything less,” Smotrycz said. “It feels good to be rewarded for playing hard like that.”

Smotrycz’s rebounding numbers have more than doubled since last season as he’s been active on the glass, particularly in the last couple weeks. In the last three games, he’s averaged almost 18 points and more than nine rebounds per game.

“It all told everything when he dove on the floor right in front of our bench in the first half…and got us an extra possession,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “That did not happen last year. He did not take charges last year. I love the way he’s scrapping. For him to get those rebounds today, I would have not predicted that yet.”

Three of Michigan’s first four baskets were 3-pointers, but it soon found easier ways to score. The Wolverines had little trouble getting the ball to the basket and converted on layups and dunks throughout the first half.

Senior guard Zack Novak displayed his all-around game by dunking a fastbreak pass from sophomore forward Tim Hardaway Jr. and even took the ball the full court, crossed over a defender and finished the drive with a lay-in.

“We pride ourselves on being able to play multiple ways,” Novak said. “We’re really versatile with the guys that we’ve got. So we can push it up if we want to, we can slow it down if we want to and it’s good to be able to do that.”

The Bulldogs were often slow getting back on defense and Michigan often took advantage by transitioning to the fast break as soon as it pulled down rebounds.

“We know they were a real big transition team,” Smotrycz said. “(The Bulldogs) like to get out and run. And I think when you play teams like that you can almost beat them at their own game because sometimes they’re putting so much effort into running after we score that they don’t get back as quick. We just took advantage of what was there.”

Freshman point guard Trey Burke excelled, demonstrating his full-court abilities by converting two 3-point plays off of layups in transition. He also added the Wolverines’ first points with a 3-pointer and finished with 19 points on 3-of-3 3-point shooting.

Michigan scored 20 of its first-half points in the paint and Novak finished the half with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting — all of which came inside the 3-point arc.

The Wolverines didn’t make a 3-pointer in the last 16 minutes of the half, but it didn’t matter as they went into halftime up 41-27.

The second half started similarly as Michigan made three 3-pointers after the break.

But the Bulldogs started to press, and though they forced the Wolverines into three turnovers, Michigan figured out how to beat the pressure and got a fastbreak layup from Hardaway Jr., a dunk from redshirt sophomore center Jordan Morgan and a kick-out 3-pointer by senior guard Stu Douglass.

Then the Smotrycz show started. The sophomore from Reading, Mass. scored eight of 10 points in Michigan’s run that boosted the lead to over 30 points. He made 4-of-5 field goals on the game and boosted his shooting to 56 percent — up 14 precent from last season.

“I’m just letting the game come to me,” Smotrycz said. “Open shots are just kind of finding me. Sometimes the hardest ones to make are the ones where no one’s even near you. But I’ve been fortunate enough to knock those down so, knock on wood, hopefully that continues.”

Added Beilein: “His percentage is so far up from last year at this time. And it’s because his shot selection is much better. So he’s just got to let the game come to him. His attitude has been very good.”

Freshman guard Carlton Brundidge saw the most playing time of his young career. He played for 13 minutes and though he made just one of three free throws, he recorded his first field goal with a reverse layup.

“We have been working toward (getting Brundidge playing time), but hadn’t really had the opportunities,” Beilein said. “We were able to spend some time with him over the last week and say, if we’re going to find out (about him), we’ve got to keep putting him in games. And hopefully the games and situations where him being (inexperienced) will not be something that costs us a game. We didn’t feel that was going to happen.”

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