UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Michigan basketball opened the floodgates before halftime.
After Providence pulled within a point of taking the lead for the first time all game with 4:24 left in the first half, Jon Teske broke the Friars’ 6-0 run with his first 3-pointer of the season.
Then Eli Brooks followed that with a 3-pointer of his own.
Then Zavier Simpson and Ignas Brazdeikis both hit layups after a pair of free throws from Isaiah Livers.
Then it was Teske again, this time on a putback dunk, just before time expired.
That one-point lead became 13. That momentum the Friars had? Evaporated.
Over the last 20 minutes, the Providence never got that close again, as the margin was no less than nine. The Wolverines beat the Friars, 66-47, winning the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament and their fifth straight game to open the season.
U-M’s bigs can score, too
The best solution to Moritz Wagner’s departure thus far for the Wolverines’ offense has been to play Isaiah Livers at center. John Beilein even called Livers, “a little Moe Wagner type of presence,” on Saturday, referencing the spacing he allows them to have.
Against Providence though, it was Teske who scored in double figures by the end of the first half. Just as important, he hit two jump-shots – a 16-footer and that 3-pointer late in the frame. By the end of the game, be had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting.
Teske, 7-foot-1, controls the painted area on defense. With even a little bit of shooting, the junior’s potential is almost limitless. And adds a dimension the Wolverines have been missing.
Simpson finishes a strong weekend
Simpson was just two assists short of his first career triple-double on Saturday and didn’t slow down much on Sunday.
The junior’s passing paced U-M’s offense, feeding Teske on the pick-and-roll and provided a few outlet passes in transition. He finished with eight assists and six points.
He also had six rebounds. All that, of course, on top of the usual defensive fire. Simpson stayed in front of his man and fought for every shot contest.
Defense continues to be absurdly good
Contest every shot is more than just a mantra for the Wolverines. They keep track of contest rate in practice, and if games are any indication, those numbers must be pretty good. For stretches of Sunday’s game, they managed to affect nearly everything the Friars threw up.
Whether it was Teske fighting through a screen to get a hand up or Charles Matthews swatting a ball off the backboard, U-M fought for every contest, holding Providence to 28.1 shooting from the field, and 2 of 18 from 3-point range.
They forced turnovers — Providence had five before the first 10 minutes of the game were over — and took the Friars out of their offensive rhythm from the jump.