Michigan basketball bounces back by blowing out Maryland, 87-63

Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
Michigan Wolverines guard Franz Wagner (21) drives against Maryland Terrapins forward Donta Scott (24) during first half action Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Ann Arbor.

Michigan basketball was determined to bounce back after its first loss of the season.

And the Wolverines did so in decisive fashion.

U-M beat Maryland with relative ease on Tuesday night, 87-63, a few days after suffering its first loss at Minnesota on Saturday.

Michigan led by 17 at halftime thanks to stellar 3-point shooting. The Wolverines made their first five 3s — three from point guard Mike Smith and two from forward Isaiah Livers — and shot 8 of 14 in the first half alone. They finished 12 of 23 from 3-point range.

Livers scored a game-high 20 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Franz Wagner added 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

Shooting wins the day

The Wolverines led for the entirety of the game thanks to their outside shooting. They hit five catch-and-shoot 3s in the first 5:44, opening up a 17-3 lead over the Terrapins, and later added 3s from Chaundee Brown, Brandon Johns and Franz Wagner before halftime. Michigan's offense wasn't able to generate too many open looks near the rim — the Wolverines shot just 6 of 15 on 2s in the first half, well below their season average — but the 3s easily made up for it.

Meanwhile, Maryland missed an array of open 3s, especially during a stretch when Michigan played a lineup featuring just one starter. The Terrapins made 2 of 10 3s in the first half and just 5 of 10 free throws; crucially, they missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities near the end of the first half. They would finish the game just 4 of 18 from 3-point range.

Dickinson sees more doubles

Michigan's freshman center is only going to see more double teams as the season continues. Teams seem to be determined not to let him beat them down low. Dickinson scored a career-high 28 points against Minnesota on Jan. 6; ten days later, the Gophers sent hard double teams and held him to nine points and forced five turnovers. Dickinson scored 26 points on 10 of 11 shooting against Maryland in Michigan's win on New Year's Eve, and Tuesday night, the Terrapins responded by sending help whenever Dickinson received the ball in the post.

How did the freshman center respond? Although he scored just three points, it was a significantly cleaner performance. Michigan's first 3-pointer from Smith came because of a pass out of the double team from Dickinson. For the most part, the Wolverines were able to get quality shots when Maryland double teamed Dickinson down low. He also had only one turnover in the first half, when he and Isaiah Livers appeared to have a miscommunication: Dickinson passed the ball back out to Livers by the 3-point line as Livers began to cut into the paint, resulting in a turnover. So while Dickinson wasn't scoring with ease like in the first game against Maryland, he was still making a positive impact on offense.

It was much of the same on the other end of the court. Dickinson forced a miss at the rim on Maryland's first possession of the game and, a couple possessions later, blocked a shot to force a shot-clock violation. He blocked three shots in the first half and provided ample rim protection.

Smith finds scoring touch

Michigan's point guard carried a heavy load against Minnesota, as Brooks missed that game with a strained right foot. Smith played 37 minutes, not leaving the court until the end of the second half when the game was out of reach, and tallied 10 assists against three turnovers — but scored zero points.

He would not go scoreless again against Maryland. Smith finished with 11 points and added six assists against only one turnover. He was assertive on offense and did not pass up open shots, making three early 3s to help Michigan establish its early lead, and also scored in transition. The grad transfer has been a key component of the Wolverines' attack this season and hit the right balance of scoring and passing in Tuesday's win.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball bounces back by blowing out Maryland, 87-63