UNCASVILLE, Conn. — There was, for a brief moment, doubt. It didn’t last long.
Charles Matthews scored 25 points, Jordan Pooled added 22 and Wednesday’s offensive deluge carried over to Saturday, as the Michigan basketball team thrashed George Washington, 84-61, in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament for its fourth straight win to open the season.
After George Washington cut Michigan’s lead to single digits with a minute to go in the first half, Isaiah Livers rejected Shandon Brown’s reverse layup attempt, Poole ran the floor for an and-one finish in transition and the Wolverines’ lead was back to double digits.
Less than three minutes into the second half, the lead had ballooned to 20, thanks to a 13-2 run.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game:
Jordan Poole was stellar
The sophomore guard came into the weekend shooting 23.5 percent from the field. That was never likely to last — and it didn’t.
Poole knocked down his first three shots, two from beyond the arc, keying the offense as the Wolverines jumped out to a double-digit lead in the game’s opening 10 minutes.
He had 13 first-half points — as many as he had in the first three games combined. He finished with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 5-for-8 from 3. Poole isn’t the type of player who needs a confidence boost, but this could act as one nonetheless.
Poole had played well on defense early in the year, but his trademark shooting simply hadn’t been there. And while it didn’t hurt Michigan in a blowout win against Villanova on Wednesday, it did play a role in the offensive struggles during the Wolverines’ first two games.
Offense runs through Charles Matthews
In half-court sets, things ran through Matthews, who finished with 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting and avoided turnovers. To open the second half, he made a 3-pointer from the corner after a Jon Teske post-up drew in the defense, then found Zavier Simpson for another 3 a few minutes later as Michigan salted the game away.
He ran the floor in transition, throwing down a two-handed dunk to highlight an early run and made his free throws, going 3-for-4. For Matthews, that’s a step in the right direction after hitting barely over 50 percent in the season’s first three games.
Matthews and freshman Ignas Brazdeikis have been the Wolverines’ leaders in usage thus far. That doesn’t seem likely to change.
No Austin Davis, no problem
Davis, the Wolverines’ backup center, sat this one out after rolling his ankle at Villanova. In his absence, John Beilein rolled with a combination of Isaiah Livers and freshman Brandon Johns to back up Teske.
Experimenting with Livers at center has been an early season go-to for Beilein, and it continued to work on Saturday.
After Jon Teske picked up an early foul, it was Livers at center for the next 4 minutes — a span over which the Wolverines’ lead jumped from four to 13. Livers finished with 11 points, tying a career-high with three 3-pointers, and many of his 21 minutes came at center. Teske did not score in the game.
As for Johns, the freshman played a handful of minutes in the first half, before getting in during garbage time. He scored five points, but still is learning how to harness the athletic ability that made him a highly touted recruit out of East Lansing.