Michigan basketball had no trouble dispatching Toledo on Wednesday night.
But the Wolverines might’ve also lost a key contributor to injury.
Center Austin Davis, who scored Michigan’s first 10 points, appeared to suffer a non-contact injury to his lower right leg early in the second half while trying to set a screen.
Davis, a fifth-year senior and one of two team captains, limped off the court and went to the locker room. A team spokesperson later said Davis will receive a full evaluation Thursday.
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) and forward Isaiah Livers (2) celebrate a play against Toledo during the first half at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
Any long-term absence would be a blow to Michigan’s front-court, which has featured a rotation between Davis — the starting center — and freshman center Hunter Dickinson.
The injury cast a pall over the Wolverines’ 91-71 win, which featured a scorching offensive performance from Michigan. The Wolverines had five players score in double digits, led by Dickinson with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Isaiah Livers (16 points) and Franz Wagner (14 points).
Davis, Dickinson establish themselves down low
The Rockets lost their starting center to a season-ending injury a couple games, and their lack of size in the front-court made a major difference. Davis and Dickinson simply feasted in the paint. Davis scored Michigan’s first 10 points and finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and two offensive rebounds before exiting due to injury. Dickinson, meanwhile, continued his torrid start. The talented freshman had four blocks in his first 12 minutes. The Wolverines seemed to make a concerted effort to find Davis and Dickinson in the post and off pick-and-roll action.
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson dunks against Toledo during the first half at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
Dickinson, who was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week on Monday, continued to display soft touch around the rim and was a difference-maker on both ends of the court. He is now averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds this season — an impressive start for a true freshman who had to deal with a unique offseason because of the pandemic. Michigan has to be extremely pleased with how Dickinson has adjusted to college basketball — and now, depending on the severity of Davis’ injury, could rely even more upon the talented freshman.
Defense turns it on
Michigan’s defense didn’t play particularly well to start the game, as Toledo was able to generate quite a few open 3s. But the Rockets didn’t make the most of those opportunities, making just three of their first 12 outside attempts. And then the Wolverines began to clamp down. Toledo’s shot quality decreased dramatically over the course of the first half and the Rockets entered halftime averaging a measly 0.70 points per possession while shooting just 28.3% from the field. Toledo’s leading scorer, Marreon Jackson, scored zero points on 0-of-8 shooting and had four turnovers in the first half. The third-leading scorer, Ryan Rollins, had just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Against the best offense it has faced so far, Michigan didn’t give up many good looks inside the 3-point line and made things difficult with its superior size and length. On one first-half possession, Franz Wagner blocked a shot before Dickinson had two consecutive blocks to force a shot-clock violation.
Now the hard part begins
The win concluded the non-conference portion of Michigan’s schedule. The Wolverines were supposed to play their first Power 5 opponent Wednesday night, but a contest against North Carolina State was postponed (and effectively canceled by the scheduling of Toledo) because of the Wolfpack’s COVID-19 issues. This is one way in which the pandemic has affected Michigan: In a normal year, the Wolverines would’ve had a much stiffer non-conference schedule, as U-M was previously scheduled to play in a multi-team event in addition to games against Kentucky and Oregon.
Michigan guard Mike Smith dribbles against Toledo during the first half at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
Now, the Wolverines will begin Big Ten play with a home game against Penn State on Sunday. And while this isn’t Michigan’s fault, this team remains relatively untested as it begins conference play. The Wolverines have had stretches where they looked beatable — and nearly lost to Oakland in what would’ve been a huge upset — and stretches of stellar play. Despite the ups and downs, though, Michigan ended non-conference play with its strongest 40-minute performance in Wednesday’s blowout win over the Rockets.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball blows out Toledo, 91-71, in nonconference finale
Published: 2020-12-10 01:18:36
Tags: #Michigan #basketball #blows #Toledo #nonconference #finale #lose #Austin #Davis