ANN ARBOR — Jordan Poole shimmied, stepped back, and launched a 3 with his foot grazing the block ‘M’ at the middle of the Crisler Center court. It went in. Why not? It was the final basket in Michigan’s 84-67 victory over No. 11 North Carolina on Wednesday.
The Wolverines improved to 7-0. They are outscoring opponents by an average of 21.7 points per game.
Freshman Ignas Brazdeikis led Michigan with 24 points and Matthews poured in 21. Poole made five 3s and scored 18.
Michigan pushed its lead to 10 early in the second half and never looked back, leading by 22 halfway through the second half. A North Carolina run that cut the margin to 11 made the sold-out crowd momentarily nervous, but the Wolverines continued their best start since the 2012-13 season, when they began 16-0.
This was North Carolina’s first visit to Ann Arbor, and it came as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan lost in Chapel Hill in the event last season, 86-71.
Michigan flipped the script by making 11 3s and frustrating a high-powered offense.
The Tar Heels (5-2) entered the game averaging 96.6 points per game, the second most in the country. Michigan had allowed exactly half that, 48.3 points per game, the best in the nation.
North Carolina made nine of its first 13 shots to grab a 21-11 lead. Coming out of the under-12 media timeout, Brazdeikis reentered the game with Michigan down 21-13 and ignited an 8-0 run, capped by an Eli Brooks 3 in transition that gave U-M its first lead.
Brooks followed that with a left-handed scoop shot off the glass and Brazdeikis converted a creative layup. Matthews’ open-court steal and dunk made it 28-23 Michigan with 5:40 left as the sold-out Crisler Crowd roared.
The roof nearly came off as Michigan closed the half with consecutive 3s from Matthews and Jordan Poole, the latter coming after 7-foot-1 Jon Teske (career-high 34 minutes) secured a loose ball by diving on the floor. Michigan led 39-35.
North Carolina missed 11 of its final 16 shots of the half. Michigan went 4-of-10 from the foul line in the first half, twice missing the front end of a one-and-one.
Michigan’s momentum carried into the second half. Simpson’s alley-oop feed to a rolling Teske gave the Wolverines a 49-39 advantage, forcing North Carolina coach Roy Williams to take a timeout less than three minutes into the half. Another Teske dunk pushed the margin to 12 before a 3 from Leaky Black ended the run.
Crisler got so loud after a Matthews put-back dunk that the players didn’t hear the whistle signaling Matthews was also fouled. The free throw made it 56-42 with 14:19 left. Isaiah Livers, Teske, and Matthews registered blocks on one possession, with Matthews letting the Tar Heels hear about it.
Poole’s corner 3 pushed the lead to 20, 63-43, with 12:00 left. Two minutes later, his 3 bubbled around the rim before falling. Michigan led by 22. That was the margin before Cameron Johnson’s 3 with 7:05 left sparked an 11-0 North Carolina run. In the blink of an eye, the deficit was cut in half. Matthews’ 3 with 4:38 left ended the spurt and put the Crisler faithful at ease.