New York — Michigan freshman Ricky Doyle wasn't in awe of the big crowd he was playing in front of at Barclays Center. That is, until he started to put some good plays together — and kept the Wolverines in their Legends Classic semifinal game against Oregon.
Doyle had a breakout game with 10 points, including a critical putback basket with 37.1 seconds left to propel No. 19 UM to a 70-63 win over Oregon.
It's the first significant contribution from a Michigan freshman since the summer exhibition tour in Italy and came at a good time for coach John Beilein, who is looking for consistent production from his big men.
As Doyle continues to develop, he's sharing time with redshirt freshman Mark Donnal and senior Max Bielfeldt. But Beilein was impressed with the way things started to click for Doyle, a 6-foot-9 traditional big man in the post.
"We saw it in Europe and he was held out because he had a little bit of an ankle sprain that was concerning to us and he had a little bit of sickness," Beilein said. "When we were really pushing, he was out a little bit. Now he's showing a little bit in practice, but so is Mark."
Late in the first half, Doyle converted a three-point play and added a tip-in during an 8-2 run in the final four minutes that gave UM a six-point halftime lead. That's when Beilein said he knew that things were starting to come together for Doyle.
"Doyle took a charge and finished a lob pass for a three-point play in a crowd and I said, 'All right — now we've got something.'" Beilein said.
"It was a big-time play and they have a great shot-blocking team and he took it right to their chin and finished it."
Doyle had seven points in each of the first two games but was scoreless in just two minutes against Detroit on Thursday.
It was a stark difference Monday, when the pro-Michigan crowd at Barclays Center was chanting his name.
"It was a new experience for me; I never really experienced anything like that," Doyle said. "It felt good."
Pounding the boards
Oregon was able to stay in the game because Michigan wasn't able to block out and keep the Ducks off the offensive glass. Oregon had 18 offensive rebounds, including five by Dillon Brooks.
With some new faces manning the post, the Wolverines have had their troubles on the boards, with Detroit notching a 37-29 margin.
Beilein, though, took the onus to try to improve — and quickly.
"That's got to fall on me; we have to emphasize that," Beilein said. "We don't send four to the glass and try to practice that every day. If we're going to win in the Big Ten, we can't do that.
"It hit us in the face and we'll get better."
Playing through it
Derrick Walton Jr. had two fouls in the first half and Michigan used Spike Albrecht in his place. The play worked, as Walton missed the last eight minutes and UM still was able to maintain its lead with its key ball-handler on the bench.
Walton finished with six points and four rebounds in 24 minutes and Albrecht seven points and three assists in 35 minutes.
"In the first half, it was no-brainer; we were OK and ahead most of the game. I checked with Spike to see if he was OK," Beilein said. "In the second half, with the extra TV timeout, the question was when were we going to put him back, with 12 minutes or 14 minutes left.
"I said he can do this and it didn't help that he was guarding (Joseph) Young, so we tried to put him on different people and switch some screens."
Michigan vs. Villanova
Tipoff: 10 p.m., Barclays Center, New York.
Records: No. 19 Michigan 4-0; No. 12 Villanova 4-0
Outlook: Michigan will face its first ranked team of the season and both teams will be playing their second game in as many nights. The Wildcats have an experienced group that will be patient with UM, as it showed in a lopsided win over VCU on Monday.