ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s 2013-14 Big Ten championship banner now hangs high in the rafters of Crisler Center as the Wolverines began the journey for another with a 92-68 season opening win over Hillsdale Saturday.
Michigan’s new big three of Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. led the way, each scoring at least 20-points, the first time a trio has done that for the Wolverines since Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Evan Smotrycz in a 2011 win over Oakland.
LeVert nearly recorded a triple-double with 20-points, eight rebounds and nine assists including a highlight reel breakaway dunk on a steal in the first half.
Irvin was steady hitting 8-of-12 attempts from the field to finish with 21-points including three makes from three-point land. Walton Jr. led Michigan in scoring with 22-points to go with four rebounds and four assists.
Hillsdale began hot, starting the game with a 12-3 advantage thanks largely to redshirt freshman guard Stedman Lowry who poured in two three-pointers, six of his 13 first half points. Lowry cooled down in the second half, scoring just two more points the rest of the game.
Michigan responded quickly though with triples from Walton Jr., Irvin and LeVert, trailing 15-12 at the second media timeout.
After another Walton Jr. three tied the game up, both teams exchanged bucks as Michigan clung to a 26-24 lead with 7:53 left in the first half.
The Wolverines then went on a 14-2 run, opening up a 40-26 lead triggered by buckets from Walton Jr. and Spike Albrecht along with back to back three balls out of the hands of Irvin and LeVert.
Michigan would make it a 20-point lead late in the first half as Irvin and LeVert connected once again on back-to-back triple tries. The Wolverines took a 50-33 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Michigan had to work to keep Hillsdale at bay as junior forward Kyle Cooper caught fire scoring 20-second half points to finish with 28 on 11-of-19 shooting.
Michigan clung to their veterans as the Chargers cut the lead to as little as 10 starting the second half off on a 16-9 run.
Following a timeout LeVert found freshman Ricky Doyle for a bucket and the foul, Irvin then hitting a long jumper off a curl cut.
From there, the Wolverines wouldn’t look back, up 75-60 by the next media timeout with 7:27 remaining, John Beilein making wholesale substitutions with 3:51 to play, Michigan up 88-62.
With 1:12 left in the game, Michigan freshman Austin Hatch checked into the game to a standing ovation from the Crisler Center crowd.
- Michigan turned the ball over just six times compiling 16 assists in the process. Hillsdale accounted for 14 turnovers, Michigan coming up with 11 steals.
- Freshman Kameron Chatman struggled from the field in his first career game, scoring just four points in 30 minutes but also recording four rebounds and four steals.
- Mark Donnal added nine points and four rebounds in his first career start at center. Ricky Doyle finishing with seven points off the bench.