Michigan can’t contain Xavier, falls at home
Ann Arbor — Michigan had its moments.
But Xavier had more, way more, in beating the Wolverines, 86-70, on Friday night at Crisler Center.
Xavier was the stronger team, and the faster team, and seemed like the more-energized team from the get-go, paying no mind to the loud crowd — seemingly answering every Michigan crowd-pleaser with a crowd-quieter.
"We obviously have a lot of work to do, and that was a great example of the work we have to do," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I'm not upset. OK, there it is. These are the things we have to work on as a coaching staff, and what you have to work on as an individual.
"I'm not discouraged. I'll be disappointed for a day."
Xavier dominated on the glass (49-27), particularly on offense (18-7), leading to 16 second-chance points.
It was painfully evident with about 5 minutes left, when Xavier grabbed two tough offensive rebounds before finding Edmond Sumner (Detroit Country Day) in the corner for a 3-pointer and a backbreaking 15-point lead.
The Musketeers (3-0) got to more loose balls and had way too many uncontested looks in the paint, especially in the second half.
Xavier scored 34 points in the paint, to Michigan's 14.
"We've gotta be tougher," said Caris LeVert, who led Michigan with 29 points on 8-of-16 shooting. "I felt like we competed in the first half. The second half, they killed us."
Duncan Robinson tried to ignite the Wolverines with back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half, drawing the Wolverines within two points, but it wasn't enough as No. 24 Michigan fell to 2-1 before its trip to the Bahamas for a tournament next week.
Robinson's second 3-pointer, which made it 56-54 with 12:14 remaining, was answered by Xavier's Remy Abell, a former Indiana Hoosier who finished with 15 points.
That was the play of the game, Xavier coach Chris Mack said — though it was just one of many big responses from Xavier. Michigan never seemed to get on a big-enough run.
"They went back in their 2-3 zone set, that freed up our fifth-year senior who's been in this building, who's been in Big Ten games, from the wing," Mack said of Abell's answer. "That told our team, 'Hey, we're here to stay all the way through the end,' and I think it told Michigan that, too.
"They knew they were in for a game."
Jalen Reynolds (Livonia Stevenson) proved huge for Xavier, as Beilein suspected he would, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds, most of that in the first half as all three of Michigan's big men — Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle and Moritz Wagner — were in foul trouble. Donnal picked up his third foul late in the first half, while Doyle and Wagner had their second way too early.
Beilein had said Thursday he thought Michigan would have fouls to give. Turns out, not so much — and Xavier led, 45-36, at the half, behind 13 first-half points from Reynolds. Two of those points were controversial, as he was awarded his jumper late in the second half, even after review, despite replays seeming to show the ball still touching his right hand when the shot clock struck zero.
Xavier's Myles Davis (14 points) also drew a foul from LeVert, with 3 seconds left, and from outside the arc. Davis made all three free throws, and Beilein said that was a momentum killer for Michigan.
It was an uncharacteristic mistake from the big man Levert.
"They're (big men) learning every day, they're trying to learn to play hard and smart," Beilein said. "They've been OK. I don't care where they are right now. I want to know where we're gonna go."
Reynolds found himself on the bench for most of the second half with four fouls, a perfect opening for Michigan — but it couldn't capitalize, making way too many mistakes, from a botched alley-oop, to a missed, wide-open layup on a fast break, to too many missed free throws.
Both teams seemed to struggle adapting to new rules — which are leading to tighter calls — finishing with 48 fouls between them. Xavier took the most advantage, though, making 23 of their 26 free throws, to Michigan's 18 of 26.
Walton wouldn't use the new NCAA rules as an excuse.
"You just try to play a lot more solidly, be in better position before it happens," Walton said. "Tonight, a couple times, we were late to some rotations and it cost us. The rules are not gonna change, so we're just gonna adjust to it and it'll play out better for us going forward."
With Reynolds in foul trouble, Xavier turned to the perimeter, and drained some 3-pointers, finishing 9-of-21 for the game.
Trevon Bluiett scored 15 for Xavier, and James Farr had 12 rebounds.
Michigan's Zak Irvin (back surgery) also scored his first seven points of the season, including a nifty, step-back 3-pointer.