LeVert's triple-double propels UM over Northern Kentucky
nn Arbor — During a timeout late in the second half, D.J. Wilson whispered in Caris LeVert's ear.
"You're close to a triple-double."
Otherwise, LeVert said, he wouldn't have had a clue.
With his mom in the stands, LeVert got that first triple-double of his Michigan career — heck, the first triple-double of his entire career, high school included, as the Wolverines rolled past Northern Kentucky, 77-62, on Tuesday night at Crisler Center.
LeVert finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists before leaving to a thunderous ovation from the sparse crowd with 1 minute, 43 seconds left.
LeVert had just grabbed his 10th rebound, and on the ensuing possession, he drove toward the basket and flipped to a trailing Mark Donnal, who made the layup to secure LeVert the triple-double.
And the fans knew it, roaring on the Donnal layup.
"What just happened? Are they giving out free hamburgers if you score a certain number of points?" John Beilein said, insisting he was unaware of the triple-double. "I had no idea."
"He was just having a really good game."
The triple-double was just the fourth in Michigan history, three of which have happened under Beilein. Darius Morris (2011), Manny Harris (2009) and Gary Grant (1987, NCAA Tournament) had the others.
"It's a blessing," said LeVert, "to be mentioned with the guys who have gotten it."
Added to the memorable night, LeVert also scored the 1,000th point of his UM career.
Michigan, with Derrick Walton Jr. back, showed how formidable the offense can be.
Walton finished with 16 points, 12 in the second half — including a pair of 3s — after Northern Kentucky focused on shutting down first-half star Duncan Robinson.
Walton, out since injuring his left ankle Dec. 1 at N.C. State, started and moved and cut with ease on the court.
"I got a couple days of practice under me, but there's nothing like real time with the lights on," Walton said. "I thought this was a pretty successful first game back."
Robinson was scorching in the first half, making six 3-pointers — putting him in prime position to tie Garde Thompson's UM record of nine set in the 1987 NCAA Tournament.
Robinson, though, finished with those 18 points and only attempted one shot in the second half as Northern Kentucky put the clamps down.
"If it creates shots for other people, that's a good thing for the team," Robinson said.
Donnal had his best game of the year, with 11 points — including seven in about a minute during the opening half.
It's been a tough go for him as he went from starter to third on the depth chart of big men behind Ricky Doyle and Moritz Wagner, but it was a feel-good night.
And maybe something to build off.
"You earn your playing time in practice," Beilein said. "And yesterday, he had a terrific day in practice. There's a reason he got a scholarship to Michigan. We saw some ability and talent. It's in there, but he's gotta bring it."
Zak Irvin added 10 points for Michigan (8-3).
Jalen Billups had 16 points and six rebounds to lead Northern Kentucky (2-6), which hung around in the first half and a bit of the second half, getting too many easy layups, before Michigan finally ran away.
Michigan returns to action Saturday against Youngstown State at Crisler Center.