Ann Arbor — The biggest question in Michigan’s exhibition opener wasn’t whether it would win, but how the new-look Wolverines would look without some of its key players from last season’s trip to the Final Four.
U-M dominated early and showed some offensive flash, cruising to a 117-44, exhibition win over Concordia on Tuesday night at Crisler Center.
Without Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. — who went to the NBA — and preseason All-America Mitch McGary (lower-back condition), the Wolverines started Spike Albrecht, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford against their NAIA opponent.
Robinson led the Wolverines with 33 points, four assists and three rebounds. Stauskas added 23 points and Caris LeVert 16 points and 10 assists.
“It felt awesome to play against someone else besides the scout team or each other in practice,” Robinson said. “We did a good job sharing the ball and playing hard and playing together. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Robinson was outscoring Concordia, 33-29, when he left the game at the 9:31 mark.
“We’re trying to put him in so many situations where he’s just playing ball but make the court really big for him so he can just use that athleticism,” coach John Beilein said. “You see him on both sides of the floor, in the middle and all over the place.”
Michigan shot 82 percent (22-of-27) from the field in the first half, including 14 by LeVert on 6-of-6 shooting and 4-of-4 by Stauskas.
Beilein said U-M played well, despite the lopsided score and “To have 26 assists is incredible, because we missed some shots too. That’s a great selling point for our team — you score over 100 points and I can recall two or three shots that I would talk to somebody about and say we can do better than that,” Beilein said. “You score over 100 points, yet you were patient with your shot; our guys did a good job seeing each other.”
Michigan’s final exhibition is Monday against Wayne State before opening the regular season on Nov. 8 against UMass-Lowell on Nov. 8.
Freshmen Derrick Walton Jr. (11 points, four assists) and Zak Irvin (10 points) made an impact in their first collegiate game, each going 4-of-7 from the field.
Walton scored seven straight points in 37 seconds, hitting a 3-pointer and following with a lay-up, then getting another breakaway basket off a steal.
“When a guy goes in there and doesn’t hit his first shot — it was one of the few bad shots we took at the beginning — but he hit his next one and his next one and his next one, that’s usually a good sign,” Beilein said.
Walton played 24 minutes and Irvin 19.
Another freshman, Mark Donnal, had three points in five minutes.