Michigan’s second-half streak stops Southern Miss
Ann Arbor — The Wolverines haven’t made it easy on themselves.
After needing a pair of second-half surges to make up for first-half struggles its first two games, Michigan couldn’t buck the trend on Thursday night.
But the Wolverines averted disaster once again, using a career night from sophomore center Jon Teske and a 15-0 second-half run to topple Southern Miss, 61-47, at Crisler Center in the first meeting between the teams.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 14 points, Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson each scored 12, and Teske recorded his first double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolverines (3-0).
After watching its 14-point lead in the first half evaporate by halftime, Michigan took a brief lead, 34-3, on a Wagner jumper 30 seconds into the second half before its shots starting missing the mark.
Southern Miss (1-1) took advantage of the lull and used a layup by Dominic Magee (10 points) and jumper by Eddie Davis III to grab a 40-36 advantage with 14:30 remaining.
But Southern Miss’s offense went cold over the next eight minutes and Michigan was able muster an answer with a 15-0 run to take control. After Wagner started the momentum-shifting flurry with a jumper to cut the deficit to one, Robinson followed with a 3-pointer to put the Wolverines on top, 41-40, and Abdur-Rahkman knocked down a jumper.
Matthews kept it going by splitting a pair of free throws before Robinson buried another 3-pointer and Teske tipped in a missed layup by Abdur-Rahkman and knocked down a short jumper to make it 51-40 with 6:49 remaining.
Tim Rowe finally ended the run for Southern Miss by splitting a pair of free throws, but Michigan kept its foot down as Matthews made a layup and knocked down a 3-pointer and Robinson drilled another 3-pointer to effectively put the game out of reach, 59-43, with 4:07 left.
Michigan jumped all over Southern Miss early, ripping off 12 straight points to grab a 12-2 lead with 16:03 left in the first half. Abdur-Rahkman provided the heavy lifting with eight points on two 3-pointers and a leaning runner, while Wagner was a menace in the post and drew two shooting fouls that led to four straight free throws.
After Southern Miss ended the spurt with a forced shot by Rowe that banked in, the Wolverines continued to push ahead as Ibi Watson knocked down a baseline jumper and Wagner muscled his way for an easy reverse layup to make it 16-4 at the 12:11 mark.
Then when Teske tagged in for Wagner, he immediately got to work with an and-1 layup and reverse layup off a nice dump off feed from Matthews to give Michigan its largest lead, 20-6, with 10:02 remaining in the half.
Southern Miss clawed its way back with a 9-2 spurt to cut it to 22-15 with Michigan’s points during the stretch coming on a Teske offensive putback on a missed layup by Jaaron Simmons.
Robinson pushed Michigan’s lead back to double digits, 25-15, with a 3-pointer in transition but the cushion was short-lived.
On the ensuing possession, Robinson was called for foul on a made 3-pointer by Tyree Griffin (15 points) that sparked a 10-0 run as Southern Miss made its next five shots and seven of its final eight field goals to close out the half.
Griffin came right back with another jumper and followed it with a 3-pointer before a turnover by Abdur-Rahkman at halfcourt led to a fast-break layup for Magee that cut Michigan’s lead to 25-24 with 2:20 left.
The teams traded baskets in the final two minutes with Wagner and Rowe each knocking down a shot in the paint, Watson and Magee trading 3-pointers and Abdur-Rahkman tipping in a missed shot before Griffin knocked down a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Southern Miss a 33-32 edge at halftime.
The Wolverines now head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, where they’ll play three games in three days starting Monday night with LSU.