Recap: UM gets defensive, disposes of Montana

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News
The Michigan players huddle early in the game.

Survive and advance. That's all it's really about.

For Michigan, however, they're going to need to get better on the offensive end of the floor after a sloppy 61-47 win over Montana on Friday night.

The 3-seed Wolverines can thank their defensive effort for getting them through to the Round of 32 and setting up a matchup with 6-seed Houston on Saturday.

The Grizzlies scored the first 10 points of the game, but after that, Michigan's defense dominated the action. After coming back to grab the lead before the half, the Wolverines held Montana to just two points over the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Michigan turned the ball over 14 times, but it didn't really matter in the long run, as Montana scored just 19 points during an anemic second half performance.

Charles Matthews led the way in scoring for the Wolverines with a game-high 20.

Montana was paced by Ahmaad Rorie's 15.

The big man gets one to fall

Moritz Wagner hit from long range to stretch Michigan's lead to 14 and it now appears this game is on cruise control.

With 7:47 remaining, the Wolverines lead 47-35.

Montana has finally gotten off the snide offensively, but so has Michigan, and it will take a big effort from the Grizzlies to get back into this game after scoring just two points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Montana's offense has disappeared

Let's start off by acknowledging the obvious: This game hasn't been pretty.

Michigan's saving grace has been it's defense. The Wolverines have held Montana to just two second half points, and they lead 40-30 with 11:37 remaining in the game.

Since the Grizzlies got out to a 10-0 lead to start the game, Michigan has outscored them 40-30. Defense has been the calling card for John Beilein's team over the last month, and right now, Montana has zero answers.

Wolverines off to hot start in 2nd half

Zavier Simpson found Mortiz Wagner for a dunk on the first possession of the second half, giving the big man his first points of the night. Charles Matthews got an easy lay-in on the next possession and Michigan has really started to find itself on both ends of the floor.

After picking up the assist, Simpson was able to get his first points with a 3-pointer that staked the Wolverines an eight-point lead.

That's where things stand now with 16:45 left to play. Michigan leads 38-30.

Michigan bounces back from sloppy start to take halftime lead

Montana raced out to a 10-0 lead and the Wolverines offense was as rusty and sloppy as could be. Things turned around late in the first half as Michigan really started to get it done on the defensive end. Things picked up offensively, and as it stands at the half, the Wolverines have grabbed a 31-28 lead.

Michigan's first lead came courtesy of a suffocating defense and a Mohammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman 3-pointer from the wing with just under four minutes remaining in the first half.

Despite the hot start, Montana shot just 39 percent from the field in the first half as Michigan's activity on the defensive side of the ball picked up.

Zavier Simpson was relegated to the bench after picking up two quick fouls in the game's first four minutes, but the Wolverines got steady play from Jaaron Simmons and Eli Brooks at the the point guard position.

Charles Matthews is the leader in the clubhouse with 12 points. He's made some beautiful backdoor cuts and his teammates are finding him with regularity.

Michael Oguine has 11 to pace the Grizzlies.

Wolverines trying to find footing

Mortiz Wagner finding Charles Matthews for an easy dunk is a good sign for a Michigan offense that has been lackadaisical in the first half. The pace has started to pick up in the Wolverines' favor, though they're still shooting just 38 percent from the field and trail the 14th-seed 17-14 with 7:12 remaining in the first half.

In contrast, the Grizzlies have cooled off since their hot start and are shooting just 33 percent from the field.

Michigan needs some big minutes from 5th-year senior transfer Jaaron Simmons, who has already logged nine minutes off the bench in the first half with Zavier Simpson sitting on the bench with two fouls.

Wolverines starting to settle in

Charles Matthews finally got Michigan on the board with a drive to the basket after the 3-seed Wolverines fell behind 10-0 to the 14th-seed Grizzlies. Jordan Poole followed with a 3-pointer from the corner to settle things down.

As it stands at the 11:46 mark, Montana leads 14-8.

A big problem for Michigan right now is that Zavier Simpson has two early fouls. These refs appear to be anticipating calls early on. That doesn't bode well for an aggressive defense like Michigan's.

Grizzlies race out to early lead

Montana is out to a 9-0 lead with 15:59 remaining in the first half.

The Wolverines have been sloppy, turning the ball over three times and going 0-for-4 from the field in the early going.

Some were concerned that Michigan's 10-day layoff would be a problem, and so far, those people are right.

Wolverines tip pushed back

Michigan will tip things off against Montana at 10:26 thanks to a dramatic game between Houston and San Diego State that went down to the wire.

The sixth-seed Cougars downed the 11th-seed Aztecs in the final moments of their matchup in Wichita when Houston star Rob Gray went to the bucket to put the Cougars ahead 67-65 with 1.1 seconds left on the clock.

Should the Wolverines prevail tonight, they'll square off against Houston on Saturday in Wichita.


Michigan vs. Montana

Tip-off: 9:50 p.m., Thursday, INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.

TV/radio: TBS/950 AM

Records: No. 3 seed Michigan is 28-7, No. 14 seed Montana is 26-7


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