Michigan coach talks about his team closing out the home portion of the schedule with an 82-53 win without Charles Matthews, who was sidelined with an ankle injury. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Win one for Charles.
With redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews missing his first game in two seasons with a right ankle injury, it was a rallying of cry of sorts for No. 9 Michigan.
Behind a career night from junior center Jon Teske and an all-around dominant performance, Michigan pummeled Nebraska to close the home portion of the schedule with an 82-53 win at Crisler Center.
"That was a great way to end the home season here," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "It was a great bounce back for our guys after the other day (loss to Michigan State).
"We turned it around. When practice started (Wednesday) and Charles wasn't going to be able to go, let's turn it around. Who's going to step up?"
Several Wolverines did. Teske tallied a career-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis added 20 points for Michigan (25-4, 14-4 Big Ten), which shot 55.6 percent (30-for-54) from the field and 54.5 percent (12-for-22) from 3-point range.
Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers, who started in Matthews’ place, posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, freshman center Colin Castleton added a season-high 11 points off the bench, and junior guard Zavier Simpson had four points, six rebounds and 10 assists.
"We knew we had to step it up," Teske said. "It shows how well-rounded we are. Any time anyone can go get theirs. Iggy is playing well, J.P. (Jordan Poole) plays well, Isaiah showed out tonight. X only shot the ball twice, but when he's dishing the ball out like that it's hard to beat."
The Wolverines sit a half-game behind Michigan State and Purdue in the standings with two games remaining: at Maryland on Sunday and at Michigan State on March 9 in the regular-season finale.
Michigan also secured a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament for the first time since Rutgers and Maryland joined the conference in 2014-15 and will receive an automatic pass into the March 15 quarterfinals.
Nana Akenten scored 11 and Glynn Watson Jr. 10 for Nebraska (15-14, 5-13), which shot 34.4 percent (23-for-67) and trailed from start to finish. James Palmer, who entered Thursday as the fourth-leading scorer in the Big Ten at 18.9 points, finished with seven points on 3-for-15 shooting.
Michigan treated Nebraska like a punching bag from the start and quickly moved past the Matthews’ news — he has been diagnosed with a sprain and is listed as "day-to-day," according to a Michigan spokesperson — by controlling the first half.
The Wolverines got rocking and rolling early thanks to Teske, who scored eight straight points and knocked down a pair of pick-and-pop 3-pointers to give Michigan a 13-4 lead less than five minutes into the game.
"We had a bad taste in our mouth," Teske said. "We wanted to come out defensively and just shut them down, and offensively knock down open shots. That's what we did. We got on them early."
Even after an early foul was called on Teske during his offensive hot streak, the offense continued to hum along. Castleton, the little-used freshman, was the first big off the bench on scored on his first possession to ignite an 18-4 flurry.
After Simpson scored on a layup, Castleton muscled his way past two Nebraska defenders for another basket at the rim before corralling his own miss at the rim and scoring again to make it 21-7 at the 11:15 mark.
Livers kept the onslaught going with a 3-pointer and hook in the paint before freshman guard David DeJulius converted an and-1 layup that helped cap the run and give Michigan a commanding 31-11 advantage with 6:36 left in the first half.
Brazdeikis, who went down for a few moments late in the half after knocking knees with a Nebraska player, kept the good vibes flowing with back-to-back 3-pointers and fed Teske for a layup as Michigan took a 43-21 lead into the break.
"Everything," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said of what went wrong in the first half. "I thought they were more aggressive on offense, more physical on defense.
"I think you have to look at your mental challenge. You're playing Michigan who is playing for a championship. You've got to meet or exceed that kind of intensity and we certainly weren't up for that challenge."
Nebraska, which benched starters Isaiah Roby and Palmer to start the second half, managed to cut the deficit to 47-30 behind the strength of seven straight points from Akenten but was never able to pose much of a threat.
Sophomore guard Jordan Poole didn't attempt a single shot in the first half and finally got in on the fun with a posterizing dunk over Nebraska big man Thorir Thorbjarnarson. Poole followed that up with a 3-pointer to extend Michigan’s lead to 54-32 at the 14:13 mark.
Michigan led by at least 21 points the rest of the way until walk-on C.J. Baird drilled a 3-pointer to make it 78-49 with 2:59 remaining and put a bow on the home finale show.
"We wanted to go out on top, especially with Charles not playing," Teske said. "It's special to come out with a win for Charles.
"It felt like this year has flew by, but we protected home court for the most part. It's something special and it was win one for Charles tonight."