Penn State made Michigan basketball grind.
But the Wolverines left the Crisler Center on Thursday night with their perfect record still alive.
No. 2 Michigan (14-0, 3-0) got 17 points from Jordan Poole while true freshman Ignas Brazdeikis recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 68-55 win over visiting Penn State.
The Wolverines return to action Sunday when they host Indiana (4:30 p.m., CBS). Michigan is now two wins away from tying the program’s best start to a season.
Things were clunky, at times, as the Wolverines shot just 35.7 percent from the field in the first half. Michigan gathered itself thanks in large part to its defense early in the second, stretching its lead to as many as 17 midway through the frame.
But Penn State clawed back, getting back within as few as eight late in the second half before Charles Matthews answered with a triple and a driving layup to push the lead back to double digits.
Brazdeikis’ triple from the corner with 1:57 to play put the game on ice.
Brazdeikis was a bit off in the first half, going just 2 of 9 from the field. But then again, Michigan’s entire offense was a bit off in the first as the Wolverines slugged back and forth with Penn State to a 25-20 edge at the break.
The true freshman left put things together early and often in the second half, though, slicing his way to the basket and finishing at the rim with relative ease.
His spin move and-1 3-point play with 11:07 to go put Michigan up 48-31, and basically put the game on ice.
He was active at both ends, recording a double-double, and got plenty of his action Thursday off pure effort.
Michigan’s offense went through some serious droughts Thursday against a Penn State team that’s known for its tough man-to-man defense and poor offense.
The Nittany Lions challenged Michigan in every passing lane and didn’t give up much by way of an open look throughout the game.
The Wolverines got a large portion of their offense from their defense, as Michigan scored 20 points off 18 Penn State turnovers.
It was one of those grinder games, as expected.
At times, Michigan was sloppy. Other times, the Wolverines were efficient.
Indiana will present a much more balanced challenge for the Wolverines on Sunday in Ann Arbor.
Matthews has gone through spurts this season where he’s been terrific offensively and stretches where he’s been relatively quiet.
Things started rather slow for him Thursday, as he hit just one shot in 11 foul-plagued first-half minutes.
But he found some clean air in the second, especially when Michigan needed him. His triple at the top of the key with 5:39 to go stopped Penn State momentum. He immediately followed that up with a tough two to give the Wolverines some breathing room again.
Matthews finished with 14 points and five rebounds on 6 of 11 shooting.
Michigan played without sixth man forward Isaiah Livers on Thursday due to back spasms. It’s unclear what his status will be for Michigan’s home game against Indiana on Sunday.
With Livers out, the Wolverines brought center Austin Davis off the bench first in place of starter Jon Teske. The Wolverines also rotated true freshman Brandon Johns into the game briefly in the first half.
Davis got seven first-half minutes and had two points. Johns, meanwhile, had one foul in one minute of action before the break.
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