Ann Arbor — Charles Matthews’ Senior Night send-off was a little bittersweet.
Matthews, a redshirt junior wing, was the lone player honored before Thursday night’s 82-53 home finale triumph over Nebraska.
But when it came time to tip off at Crisler Center, Matthews was sidelined for the first time in his two seasons at Michigan with a right ankle injury.
"(Monday) he did a few things, but it didn't feel right," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Then the next day when he came to practice — he's got some busy class days Tuesday and Wednesday — he did some work on it and felt a little bit better. But then when we came and he tried to do anything (Wednesday), he couldn't do anything. So we just said, 'OK. He's not going to play.' But we certainly weren't going to tell the world 24 hours ahead of time once we knew that."
When asked if there's any prognosis going forward with Matthews, Beilein said, "No."
ESPN, which was televising the contest, reported during the game that Matthews had an MRI on his right ankle and it showed "significant ligament damage." A Michigan spokesperson said that's not the case and Matthews is listed as "day-to-day" with a sprain.
Matthews suffered the injury when he stepped on another player’s foot during the first half of last weekend’s loss to Michigan State. The ailment forced Matthews to exit the game and get examined by the training staff on the bench before heading back to the locker room to get his ankle re-taped.
Matthews was able to return but said he “crashed it again” in the second half en route to finishing with four points on 1-for-8 shooting in 28 minutes.
Before Wednesday's practice, Matthews said playing through the injury was “probably one of the most painful things I’ve done all season" and added he still expected to play on Thursday.
However, sophomore forward Isaiah Livers said he and the rest of the team knew he wasn't going to play when he walked into Wednesday's practice with a walking boot, the same one he wore on the bench during Thursday's game.
"When you have a boot on, everybody is like, 'Oooh,'" Livers said. "Charles is just a super positive guy and you couldn't even tell that he was hurt or not because he was always in the huddles talking (during the game). He was basically a coach out there. I think he deserves some recognition for what he did today, too."
Livers took Matthews’ spot in the starting lineup and recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds all while clamping down on Nebraska's leading scorer James Palmer (seven points, 3-for-15 shooting). It was Livers’ first start of the season and first time being in the starting five since last season’s national title game.
It was also the first time all season Michigan used a different starting lineup that didn’t consist of junior guard Zavier Simpson, sophomore guard Jordan Poole, freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, junior center Jon Teske and Matthews.
"We would love to have him back next game," Livers said. "But if not, we can keep playing the way we are. You've got to adjust when a player like that goes down. Some adjustments have to be made and I think we did very well. The coaching staff prepared us well for this game."
Freshman guard David DeJulius played a season-high 17 minutes against Nebraska and spent time at the one and two positions.
Entering Thursday's game, the most playing time DeJulius received was seven minutes against Chattanooga on Nov. 23. Yet, Beilein made it known on Wednesday he was going to start deploying DeJulius at both guard spots in an effort to get Simpson and Poole more rest.
"I thought they were good," Beilein said of DeJulius' minutes. "I think he's still probably going too fast. He is fast and he's like a running back with the football, but he's just got to slow down, have pace in space. Sometimes he just puts that head down, but it was good and we want him to shoot the ball, too."
DeJulius finished 1-for-4 from the floor — the lone make on a strong take and finish on an and-1 layup through traffic — pulled down four rebounds and received some credit for his work on the defensive end.
"He locked up. He did very well," Livers said. "His emphasis is locking people down. He loves that one-on-one matchup. He prefers an iso. That's just Dave's gritty mentality."
Michigan shot 54.5 percent (12-for-22) from 3-point range against the Cornhuskers, which is the second-best percentage and third-most makes in a game for the Wolverines this season.
Brazdeikis (4-for-5), Teske (3-for-3) and Livers (3-for-6) did most of the long-range damage.
"When we've been able to make 10...we probably win a lot of games when we make 10," Beilein said.
Michigan is 12-0 this season when it has made at least 10 3-pointers.
... Michigan went 17-1 at Crisler Center with 14 wins coming by double digits.