Ann Arbor — After allowing Elon to hang around for much of the first half, No. 24 Michigan dialed in from three-point range and seized momentum, rolling to a 88-68 victory Monday at Crisler Center. Derrick Walton and Duncan Robinson led the Wolverines with 24 and 19 points, respectively.
Elon (1-1) shot ahead with a three-point advantage midway through the first half, but Robinson led the Wolverines' charge that resulted in a 43-33 halftime lead. Walton sent a slick pass between two Elon defenders in transition, which Robinson easily jammed home.
Two minutes later with Michigan up two points, Zak Irvin found Robinson for corner threes on back-to-back possessions, swinging momentum fully back to the Wolverines.
Michigan (2-0) jumped out with a 7-0 run to begin the second half, and was able to maintain a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game.
"As a team, I feel like we had a little more energy (than last game)," Robinson said. "I'm getting more and more comfortable on that left side, but it's a process. I like that left wing, off the foul line."
Walton and Robinson finished a combined 11-of-12 from beyond the arc, with the test of the team landing just two.
While this was clearly a coming out game for Robinson, perhaps the most valuable thing for Michigan was allowing some of its players rehabbing from injury the chance to experience game action. Monday was the first action of the season for Irvin, who is working his way back from offseason back surgery. Though Irvin, a junior, didn't score on any of his five shots, he was able to play 15 minutes on the court, which will be key moving forward.
"(Irvin) looked great out there," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "The minute he walked into the game our defense changes. I'm not measuring him on whether he made threes, I'm measuring him on his defense, rebounding and passing. His ability as a shooter will come with those. I thought his shot looked great today, it just didn't go in."
Other players getting big minutes were freshman Moritz Wagner and senior Spike Albrecht. Wagner is playing basketball in America for the first time after growing up in Germany, and Albrecht is recovering from multiple offseason hip surgeries. Both appear to be significantly improving in each game they play.
Joining Wagner at the five spot was Mark Donnal, Rickey Doyle and DJ Wilson. Beilein said that there's going to be heavy competition at the position in the coming weeks.
"We hope that we'll get a rotation," Beilein said. "We can't be rotating four guys there."
Ben Fidelman is a freelance writer