The Wolverine

December 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 48 of 75

DECEMBER 2017 THE WOLVERINE 49   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • The Wolverines have struggled mightily as a team from three-point range in their first two games, shooting just 32.2 percent. This is a far cry from last year's 38.5 figure, which was the third-best mark in the Big Ten. • Sophomore Zavier Simpson played sparingly last year (1.6 points, 1.0 assist and 0.6 rebounds per game) as Michi- gan's backup point guard, but looks much improved so far this season, particularly on the offensive end. After shooting 26.3 percent from three-point land last year, Simpson made 3 of 5 shots from deep (60.0 percent) through two games this season. He also was finding his teammates at an impressive rate (6.0 assists per contest), highlighted by a nine-assist performance in the 86-66 victory ver- sus North Florida in the season opener Nov. 11. • Michigan got off to slow starts in each of its first two contests this sea- son, but picked up the pace offensively in the second half of each game. The Maize and Blue averaged a lackluster 32.0 points before halftime in their out- ings, but bounced back to post 47.0 points after the intermission. The best example of this was against North Florida, when U-M put 32 on the board in the first half but then exploded for 54 after the break. • Redshirt sophomore guard Charles Matthews took the most shots on the team in the first two contests, hoist- ing up a total of 31 field goal attempts, while only one other player on the ros- ter — junior forward Moritz Wagner (26) — took more than 23 shots. — Austin Fox BASKETBALL REWIND: NOV. 11-13 Record From Nov. 11-13: 2-0 Best Win — 86-66 over North Florida, Nov. 11: There's only two choices for this option — North Florida Nov. 11 and Central Michigan Nov. 13 — but the season-opening triumph over the Ospreys gets the nod. The game was actu- ally much closer than the score would indicate, though. U-M led just 32-30 at halftime, and saw North Florida grab a 47-46 lead with 12:49 left in the game. However, Michigan put on an offensive explosion over the final 13 minutes. The Wolverines outscored the Ospreys 40-19 from that point on, and turned a one- point deficit into a nine-point lead in just more than five minutes. Even head coach John Beilein was impressed with his team's offensive outburst down the stretch. "We did not play well in the first half — I thought we were a little anxious," he said. "We settled down, though, and the fact that we scored 86 points after the start we had was impressive." Michigan forced 24 turnovers, while only committing 10. U-M also shot 46.5 percent to North Florida's 44.0, and won the rebounding battle 36-34. Worst Loss — None. MVP — Junior forward Moritz Wagner: Several players are deserving of this honor through the first two games, but Wagner gets the edge. The Berlin native recorded a double-double in each of Michigan's first two games, with 18 points and 12 boards against North Florida, and 10 points and 11 rebounds versus Central Michigan. Coming into the season, Wagner had recorded one double-double in his entire career. He had also compiled just two 10-rebound games in his tenure prior to this year. Breakout Performer — Redshirt sophomore guard Charles Matthews: He had to sit out last season per NCAA rules after transferring in from Kentucky, and is making his presence felt in the early going. He started his U-M career with a bang against North Florida, scoring 20 points and pulling down four rebounds, while mixing in several thunderous dunks. The Chicago native followed that up with a 13-point performance against Central Michigan Nov. 13. Through two games, he was averaging 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest. Freshman Impact — Forward Isaiah Livers: None of the freshmen have played much of a role yet this season, so Livers gets the edge here by default. He played 10 minutes against North Florida and six against Central Michigan, and scored a total of three points between the two contests. It's hard to imagine any of the freshmen seeing extended minutes this year, but Livers has appeared to be the best of the bunch in the early going. Best Highlight — With 40 seconds remaining in the Central Michigan game Nov. 13, Michigan easily broke the Chippewas' full-court press with just two passes and Wagner lobbed a perfect alley-oop to a streaking Matthews, who finished with a monstrous two-handed slam. Bold Prediction — Sophomore Zavier Simpson will hold onto the starting point guard role. It was widely assumed that Ohio fifth-year graduate transfer Jaaron Simmons would be Michigan's starter at the position, but that hasn't been the case. Simpson has started the Wolverines' first two games and hasn't shown any signs of giving up the job. He has averaged 8.0 points in those two contests, after scoring just 1.6 points per game last year. It's obviously been a small sample size, but Simpson has looked better running U-M's offense than Simmons or freshman Eli Brooks. — Austin Fox R e d s h i r t s o p h o m o r e g u a r d C h a r l e s Matthews averaged a team-best 16.5 points, plus 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in his first two games in maize and blue. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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