The Wolverine

March 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE X FACTOR Ohio State freshman Justin Ahrens elbowing U-M junior point guard Zavier "X" Simpson in pregame warm-ups set the tone for what would be a chippy contest Jan. 29 at Crisler Center. Powered by Simpson's masterful triple-double which included 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists against zero turnovers, Michigan posted a 65-49 victory. The rebound and assist marks were both new career highs for Simpson. Like always, Simpson also made his presence felt on the defensive end — including a block against 6-9 forward Kaleb Wesson — while the Wolverines held the Buckeyes to less than 50 points for the first time in exactly 70 years (a 50-48 win on Jan. 29, 1949). Ahrens was probably left wishing after the game he didn't poke the bear, who never lacks motivation against his home-state team. Simpson's triple-double was the sixth in school history and just the second against a Big Ten foe, and U-M's first since Der- rick Walton Jr. in 2015. He became just the 10th Division I player in the last nine seasons (since 2010-11) to record a triple-double without a turnover, and only the 41st in that same time period to have 12 or more assists in a game with no turnovers. "To have the ball that much and have 12 assists and no turn- overs, I don't recall seeing that in coaching ever," head coach John Beilein marveled afterwards. "… He was the sparkplug. This game means a lot to him and Jon [Teske, a fellow Ohio na- tive], you could see it." PHOTOS BY LON HORWEDEL THE BIG PICTURE

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