ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan avoided an upset bid from Furman at home on Thursday night, never trailing by too many, hitting big shots late to seal the win.
It was the Wolverines’ first true upset scare of the season, and in their final nonconference game, no less. Ultimately, could the close contest — and potential success of the Paladins down the road — help Michigan come March?
Michigan head coach John Beilein met with the media after the game to discuss that topic and more.
“A couple years ago, in the first round of the tournament, we played Wofford and couldn’t get away from them. They missed a 3-pointer late that led to us winning the game. That game felt very similar to that. We had a very good challenge today.
“That team will get us a lot of RPI points because I think they’ll get a lot of wins.”
On the big shots seniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton hit late to put the game away:
“We were mostly playing through Irvin at that point. Walton wasn’t on his game, it seemed. But Walton got open off a screen to hit that 3-pointer (to turn a 3-point game into a 6-point game and put the win away).”
The confidence in Moe Wagner:
“Every day is a day where he is doing something new. Like, today, we got him open a lot from the 3-point line, but he didn’t hit many. He’s a fun kid to coach.”
Biggest takeaways from nonconference play:
“We have to play without fear. When things get bad, to not get down. There’s times where I have to put my put my arm around a player, and tell them how good they are. We have a good collection of kids, we just need a little more grit.”
D.J. Wilson’s quiet first half, bigger second half:
“He got a big rebound, and finished well on his foul shots. Last year in practice, Wilson wasn’t good with his free throws, so to see him go down and make them today was good.”
The slow start to the second half:
“We got a couple good looks, but we didn’t knock them down. We have to do a better job of our leadership to huddle up, and realize it’s a 6-point game.”
On winning No. 750:
“This will make Christmas much better for the Beilein’s.”