Michigan basketball coach John Beilein was bored Friday night.
So he got on Twitter and began reading some tweets.
He found one from the popular U-M blog, @UMHoops.
“Savannah State is in everyone’s timeline for giving up 100 pts routinely this year,” the tweet read. “They are leaving D1 after this season, but let us never forget that U-M needed a 2nd half comeback, Zack Novak missed dunk at the buzzer, and OT buzzer beater by DeShawn Sims to win in 2008.”
Beilein was startled.
“It sent me into a shock of what could happen today,” he recounted late Saturday afternoon. “I almost willed it to happen.”
In his 12th year at Michigan, Beilein has seen a lot of undermanned teams put forth their best effort against the Wolverines – like 10 years ago, when Savannah State nearly toppled a heavily favored U-M team.
Saturday, No. 5 Michigan (11-0) remained undefeated by staving off an upset bid Western Michigan, emerging with a 70-62 win.
The Wolverines were favored 25.
At one point, the Broncos (5-5) — who lost two of their previous three games to Nicholls State and South Carolina Upstate — led by eight.
Guard Michael Flowers scored 31 points on 9 of 16 shooting, the highest individual total against U-M since Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo scored 31 in April’s national title game.
The Wolverines buckled down on defense and used a 24-4 run to take a lead. But it never grew into a comfortable advantage.
Which brought Beilein back to his earlier days in Ann Arbor.
While complimenting Flowers later in the postgame news conference, Beilein drew another comparison. This time, to a game four years ago when the Wolverines weren’t so fortunate.
“When you have a point guard that can get 31, reminded me of the New Jersey Tech game,” Beilein said, “when no matter what we did, they were making shots. He was terrific.”
U-M’s 72-70 loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology is in the rear view mirror. So is the Savannah State game. But the team is in the same stretch of the schedule where those two games took place.
Michigan’s next two games come against Air Force and Binghamton. Both are considered “buy games,” where the home team pays to schedule a lesser team that should result in an easy win.
As Western Michigan proved, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Still, Beilein was encouraged by the way his team responded to the early challenge. Charlies Matthews scored 25 points, making 11 of 16 free throws, and Zavier Simpson added 15 and Jordan Poole 14.
Beilein saw Saturday as a positive learning experience going forward.
“Our kids need composure. They have not been in this situation where this thing is, ‘Oh, you’re supposed to be good, and the other team (isn’t), you’re just going to win easy,’ ” Beilein said. “You get into these situations, and I thought we needed to get through something like that to get it done.
“Not talking about winning at Northwestern where it’s another Big Ten game. I’m talking about when things aren’t going well and you’re about to get upset, you’ve got to have some resiliency and I love what we saw from our team today. Charles (Matthews) made big shots. Zavier (Simpson) made big shots. Charles went to the foul line. We haven’t had to win a game from the foul line yet this year. So they foul us, we go 4-for-4 down the stretch when they foul us. So these are all things that will really help us as we continue to go forward.”
Contact Orion Sang: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang.