No. 9 Michigan rolls past Chattanooga 83-55
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Isaiah Livers is doing his best to shore up one of Michigan’s few areas of concern early this season.
Livers scored all 12 of his points in the first half, and the ninth-ranked Wolverines cruised to an easy 83-55 victory over Chattanooga on Friday. Livers made all four of his shots from the field in the first half and only missed one for the game.
Michigan came in shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range, but Livers went 2 for 3 and is now 11 for 20 on the season. He shot 36 percent from beyond the arc last season as a freshman.
“Last year, what was happening (was) he wasn’t consistent with his footwork, and the arc on his shot. Down the stretch last year, he couldn’t make many shots,” coach John Beilein said. “You see much more arch on his shot, and occasionally, frequently, I should say, you see really good rotation.”
Freshman Iggy Brazdeikis scored 20 points and Jordan Poole added 14 for the Wolverines. Michigan (6-0) avoided a letdown in its first game back in Ann Arbor after three impressive wins away from home.
The unbeaten Wolverines have won each of their games by at least 19 points. They led 42-22 at halftime in this one and held Chattanooga (2-5) to 36 percent shooting, including an 8-of-30 showing from the field in the first half.
Included in Michigan’s impressive early-season resume is a 27-point win at Villanova on Nov. 14. The Wolverines also won neutral-site games against George Washington and Providence. Chattanooga became only the second team to score more than 47 points against Michigan.
Kevin Easley led the Mocs with 21 points and went 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
“His shot selection and his shot preparation was good,” Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris said. “He’s a capable player. He’s a talented player.”
Chattanooga: The Mocs opened the season with an 11-point win over Charlotte, but they’ve had a tough stretch since then. Easley, a freshman, was the only Chattanooga player to reach double figures in scoring Friday.
Michigan: This was the most lopsided win of the season so far for the Wolverines, and an example of what they can do when they combine their tenacious defense with good outside shooting. Brazdeikis, Poole and Livers were a combined 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
Each team had a 7-footer in the starting lineup, with Michigan’s 7-foot-1 Jon Teske up against Chattanooga’s 7-foot Thomas Smallwood. Both players finished with seven points. Teske led all players with 12 rebounds.
Teske also had three of Michigan’s 10 steals .
“I think he knows his role and has embraced it. I think he’s a perfect fit, really, for what they do,” Paris said. “I think he’s capable as a shooter, so you can’t just slough off on some of those other guys and over-help. He’ll make the 15-footer.”
Needless to say, this was not the main event for Michigan fans this week. The football team plays at Ohio State on Saturday. With 3:18 left in regulation, the basketball fans at Crisler Center were chanting “Beat Ohio” — and the same message appeared on the scoreboard moments later.
“I feel like we’re all going to get together (to watch it),” Brazdeikis said. “That’s going to be an exciting game.”
The two teams immediately ahead of Michigan in the AP Top 25 — Auburn and North Carolina — both lost this week, so the Wolverines have a good chance to move up.
Chattanooga: The Mocs host Hiwassee on Tuesday night.
Michigan: The Wolverines host No. 7 North Carolina on Wednesday night. The teams met last year at North Carolina, with the Tar Heels winning 86-71.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister