ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan (1-0) knocked off Howard (0-1) on Friday night in its season opener 76-58.
The Wolverines had a slow start — it took them five minutes to convert their first basket of the game. It also took them just under seven minutes to gain a lead. But once they had that lead, they never lost it.
But it was still a closer game than many expected, as the Bison kept it tight until midway through the second half. A couple baskets from D.J. Wilson, followed by a Zak Irvin 3-pointer, put the dagger in the coffin. Michigan went up by 11 and never looked back. The exclamation point came by way of a D.J. Wilson alley-oop dunk with just under 6 minutes left in the half to put the Wolverines up 18.
— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) November 12, 2016
Moe Wagner, the team’s starting center, has the the highest expectations of any Michigan player heading into the season. His 15 points in the exhibition game against Armstrong State provided some spark to that talk. While his three steals were impressive defensively, his offense was not – he finished with just 8 points in 15 minutes, six of those coming from free throws late in the second half.
A Howard team that’s projected to win the MEAC brought a solid defense into Ann Arbor. But for the Wolverines, this game gives you a lot to work on in practice heading into the next game. The Wolverines shot an average 41-percent from the field, a stat they’re known for excelling in, and went 9-of-24 on 3-pointer.
While the offense faced a stiff zone defense, and struggled, the defense looked surprisingly really good. We haven’t heard “good” and “defense” used in the same sentence in Michigan basketball since the 2013 national runner-up team. The perimeter defense was great, holding Howard to 3-of-11 on 3-pointers along with accounting for an outstanding eight steals.