And Caris LeVert was the man to do it – literally – on his way to 17 second-half points and a team-high 21, as Michigan defeated Detroit 71-62 Thursday night in regional round of the 2014 Progressive Legends Classic.
With U-M trailing Detroit 35-34 with 16:11 remaining in the second-half, LeVert, who had been held in check for most of the game, exploded for the Wolverines’ offense.
In less than a four minute stretch, LeVert became U-M’s offense and took over the second half of the game.
First, off an UDM turnover he stole the ball and took it coast to coast for one of Michigan’s six fast break points. It would pace LeVert, as he would continue to score Michigan’s next eight pints, on his way to a 10-0 personal run versus the Titans defense.
“He’s that kind of player,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said on LeVert’s play. “I told my guys coming in, they read everything, they know he’s on the [NBA] Drat boards and what that means. That’s what good players do. That’s what All-American’s do, they take over games. We limited his touches and gave him some different looks. He settled down and took over.”
And it almost worked for Detroit – for a half anyways – as they were able to keep U-M’s star player in check for the most part. In the first half, he struggled, scoring 6-points on 2-of-6 shooting, as the Titans were forcing him to face up offensively on the perimeter.
“Well they came out in the first half really trying to go no catch with him,” Beilein said. “ And that’s something new again. We try to practice a lot of things. I think we are really thorough. With this game being so complex you can’t cover everything. So their no catch defense gave us a little bit of an adjustment period. Once we found some way to get him the ball, he was really effective.”
In the second-half, the Detroit defense simply had no answers for LeVert’s length and ability to get out in transition.
“I think I got out in transition more,” LeVert said. “My teammates found me cutting to the basket and things like that, getting easy baskets.”
And if teams continue to find ways to stop LeVet, Beilein says it’s up to his coaching staff to figure out new ways to get him involved in the game plan.
“As this year goes on the coaching staff [with] Caris needs to find creative ways to use him, so he can still be a big part of our offense,” Beilein said.
In the end, it was just one of those nights for LeVert.
“It was one of kind of one of those things that just happened,” LeVert said on performance. Like through the game they were denying me kind of. The when I got the ball they were trying to make me score tough baskets. We got some easy shots to go in. We got some transition baskets.”
Michigan (3-0) travels to Brooklyn, N.Y. to play Oregon (2-0) in the semifinals of the 2014 Progressive Legends Classic in the Barclay center.