Michigan basketball faced off against Texas in Austin, Texas on Tuesday night. The Wolverines left The Lone Star State with a 59-52 win.
After a win against UCLA, this was another large non-conference win for the Wolverines. They can now add Texas, UCLA, and VCU to its resume come March.
Here’s the four takeaways from Michigan’s win over Texas.
Dealing with Texas’ Length
One of the concerns going into the game was how Michigan would deal with the length of this Texas team. They average 6 blocks per game, lead by Mo Bamba, who averages 4.
Yes, that Mo Bamba, who John Beilein recruited for the better part of two years.
Sophomore PG Zavier Simspon found a great way to score over Bamba, by launching a floater 20 feet in the air:
Michigan often found ways to spread out the defense to get Bamba away from the basket.
After Michigan came out flat to start the second half, Texas started making shots. The Wolverines really needed to get something going, and here is a perfect example of spacing the floor out to draw Bamba away from the rim:
Charles Matthews drives to the lane, and despite Wagner spreading wide, Bamba gets caught looking for a block. Open 3 for Wagner – buckets.
Texas’ leading scorer, Andrew Jones, was out due to a fractured wrist. Still, even with Jones, Texas isn’t a great shooting team.
This made for an interesting matchup because the focus of this Longhorn offense shifted to the frontcourt, which the Wolverines had struggled with.
Ultimately, Michigan’s defense won out.
Texas’ two big men, Bamba and Osetkowski, shot a combined 47 percent (10-21), but, as a team, Texas only shot 37-percent.
This was definitely an improvement after a shaky performance defensively against UCLA.
Late in the second half, Moe Wagner went out with what looked to be a rolled ankle. Michigan played well in Wagner’s absence. As Drew Hallett of Maize n’ Brew points out, the Wolverines don’t really play any prominent opponents for 3 weeks:
Michigan needs to survive this without Wagner, and then they are fortunate not to play an opponent of note for the next three weeks.
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) December 13, 2017
Michigan’s next 3 opponents: Detroit Mercy, Alabama A&M, and Jacksonville . All of the aforementioned teams should be wins without Wagner.
Player of the Game
Senior guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman – let’s call him MAAR – was Michigan’s player of the game, and it wasn’t really close. Coming off of a bad game against UCLA, Abdur-Rahkman really needed to put together a good game to get his senior season back on track.
He did just that.
The senior guard posted a double-double with 17 points (7-15), 10 rebounds (4 Offensive), an assist, and a steal.
MAAR had some great plays in this game, including this layup:
- Michigan shot 75-percent from the free throw line, an improvement from their 37-percent effort from the line against UCLA.
- Despite giving up length, the Wolverines grabbed 10 offensive rebounds to Texas’ 6.
- Zavier Simpson played 26 minutes, which is 12 more than starter Eli Brooks
- Michigan and Texas both had a pretty low 10 turnovers
The full box score can be found here.
The Wolverines play their next game against Detroit on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.