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Walton's triple-double leads UM in blowout win

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Records are spotty from back in the day, especially when it comes to assists.

But according to the official record book, it took until the 100th season of Michigan basketball to see a fourth triple-double.

It took precisely four days to see the fifth.

One game after Caris LeVert posted a triple double, Derrick Walton Jr. joined him in making history during a 105-46 shellacking of Youngstown State on Saturday at Crisler Center.

Playing just his second game since missing two weeks with a left-ankle injury, Walton saw the floor perhaps as good as he ever has before, dishing out a whopping 13 assists to go with 11 rebounds — both career high points — and 10 points.

BOX SCORE: Michigan 105, Youngstown State 46

"The funny thing about it is, guys kept telling me I was always so close," Walton said. "It just so happened, I kind of put it all together."

As Walton was closing in Saturday night, his teammates made a point to let him know — and then they went to work making sure he got it. Walton credited Levert, Zak Irvin and Ricky Doyle with boxing out to make sure Walton got that 10th rebound.

And it came at the 8:31 mark of the second half, with Walton picking up a missed 3-pointer by Youngstown State.

The crowd, sparse but enthusiastic, roared at the accomplishment.

Five seconds later, during a timeout on the floor, LeVert was the first one up to Walton, and they hugged.

"He was urging me to get my own," Walton said of LeVert. "I'm thankful they helped me reach a personal milestone."

Walton joins Levert, Darius Morris, Manny Harris and Gary Grant as the triple-double holders at Michigan, though coach John Beilein argues Cazzie Russell probably had some in the days before they kept close tabs on assists.

Walton also had four steals, and was practically all over the place. His favorite target was Aubrey Dawkins, who gave Walton three assists on three slam danks -- each seemingly prettier than the next.

On one, Dawkins went up with one hand, threw it down and crashed hard to the floor, banging his wrist; he was fine. One on another, Walton could've easily just laid it up for points of his own, but instead he flipped it his open-gym partner, who brought the crowd to its feet with a 360-degree throwdown.

"Aubrey's first kind of cool dunk during a game," LeVert said. "I know I was fired up."

Dawkins, so brilliant last year but kind of a forgotten man this year, finished with 19 points, as did LeVert.

Duncan Robinson scored 14, including another four 3-pointers. D.J. Wilson scored 12, all in the second half. Nine players in all scored for the Wolverines (9-3), who had five in double figures Saturday, after having five last game, six the game before that.

It's the second time Michigan has scored 100 points this season, after not doing it once last season.

This stretch of four seemingly mundane nonconference games in a row may not be a thrill for season-ticket holders, but it's surely allowed Michigan to find its way — especially after a humbling loss to SMU on Dec. 8.

"I didn't have a feel," Beilein said of his team following that loss. "We finally got somewhat of a feel who we are."

It helps having Walton back, after he missed two weeks after suffering an ankle injury Dec. 1 at North Carolina State.

Walton does it all as much as everyone on Michigan's roster, particularly on defense and rebounding, two of the team's acknowledged weaknesses.

In securing the triple double, Michigan became just the second school since 1996-97 to have triple-doubles in consecutive games, joining Robert Morris in 2008, according to STATS. Michigan, however, is the first to have two different players do it.

To put Walton's 13 assists in perspective, Youngstown State had nine, total.

"It all goes back to what we preach here," Walton said. "You give to the game, it gives back. So, I was really looking to help guys get in their rhythm, and they were making the shots."

Michigan shot 61.5 percent, including 63.6 percent in the first half, when the Wolverines raced out to a 55-22 lead.

Michigan dominated Youngstown State from the get-go, shutting down the paint on defense early — it took till halfway through the first half to score a point in the paint.

Cameron Morse, from Flint, led Youngstown State (5-7) with 10 points.

Michigan closes out nonconference play Wednesday against Bryant, before Big Ten action begins Dec. 30 at Illinois.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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