No. 7 Michigan erases memory of first loss, trounces Maryland
Ann Arbor — Michigan was looking to put its worst outing of the season in the rearview mirror and wash the bad taste out of its mouth.
Maryland proved to be the perfect tonic.
The No. 7 Wolverines raced out to a 17-3 lead and never looked back on Tuesday night, bouncing back from their first loss and returning to their formidable form with an 87-63 wire-to-wire victory at Crisler Center.
"Playing our game and not letting anybody take us out of it, coach (Juwan Howard) preached that," grad transfer guard Mike Smith said. "You learn from every mistake that you make and you grow from it. I think we showed tonight we've grown from that loss (at Minnesota) and we've learned from it."
Senior forward Isaiah Livers had 20 points and sophomore wing Franz Wagner scored 15 for Michigan (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten), which led by at least 17 points the entire second half and tied a season high with 12 made 3-pointers.
Smith, who was held scoreless against Minnesota for the first time in his college career, added 11 points and six assists. Junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. scored a season-high 11 points off the bench.
After scoring 26 in the first meeting, freshman center Hunter Dickinson was double-teamed as soon as he touched the ball and finished with three points. But unlike times against Minnesota, he showed patience in finding his teammates and helped open up shots against a Maryland team that was out to avenge last month’s 84-73 loss.
That never came close to happening. Donta Scott scored 13, Eric Ayala had 12, Aaron Wiggins had 11 and Jairus Hamilton 10 for the Terrapins (8-7, 2-6), which shot 21.1% from 3-point range (4-for-19), missed 13 free throws and trailed by double digits the majority of the contest.
The Wolverines shot 51.8% from the field (29-for-56), including 50% from 3-point range (12-for-24), and finished with 20 assists.
"I thought we were a half-step slow tonight. Maybe it was just Michigan,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought Michigan was terrific. They’re really hard to guard. Low post, if you don’t double them, they score on you. If you double them, they can shoot 3s. They shot the ball terrific tonight. They moved the ball great."
Much like the first meeting, Maryland had a hard time defending Michigan from the start. But unlike the previous encounter, it was Michigan who caught fire from 3-point range, scoring the first eight points and roaring out to the 14-point lead less than six minutes into the game.
Smith splashed three early 3s and dished out assists on back-to-back deep balls from Livers as the Wolverines made their first five shots from beyond the arc. By the time Johns joined the downtown party, Michigan was in control and led 22-7 with 10:52 left in the half.
"Guys were just locked in and focused. I think it was the carryover (from Minnesota loss),” said Livers, who went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. “We should play like that all the time, no excuses. …That first four minutes was going to determine the game and I feel like we did a great job jumping on them.”
With senior guard Eli Brooks back in the lineup after missing Saturday's game with a strained right foot, the defense returned to its menacing ways. The Wolverines mixed up their defensive looks and made things difficult for the Terrapins, who missed eight of their first 10 shots and didn’t crack double figures until the 8:48 mark. By that time, Maryland had more turnovers (five) than made field goals (three), with half its points coming from the free-throw line.
Maryland mustered a run against Michigan’s second unit and briefly cut the deficit to single digits, 28-19, on a 3-pointer from Hakim Hart. But Wagner immediately pushed it back to double figures with a turnaround jumper before closing the half with a 3-pointer to give the Wolverines a 42-25 lead at the break.
Michigan used deep balls from Brooks and Livers and a sequence of technical fouls to open a 21-point lead less than four minutes into the second half.
The Terrapins were called for a pair of techs after Maryland’s Darryl Morsell was upset with an official for not blowing the whistle when he was hit in the face by Wagner on a driving layup. In the first meeting between the teams, Morsell suffered a facial fracture after taking an inadvertent elbow from Wagner.
After the play was reviewed, Michigan’s bench was also assessed a tech. By the time the dust settled and all the free throws were taken, the Wolverines held a commanding 55-34 advantage with 16:22 remaining.
From there, Michigan led by as much as 25 points as it got back to its winning ways, rolled to its sixth conference win by double digits and swept the regular-season series against Maryland.
“We never planned on losing, but it happens,” Smith said. “We knew that this game was a bounce-back game and they were going to come out here with a vengeance. We beat them at their place. We knew they were going to come out here and it was going to be a dogfight.
"We came out here with confidence and played hard and learned from our mistakes from Minnesota. We came out here to win and it showed."