LeVert, Doyle Connect For Big Hoops Late

If Aubrey Dawkins career-high 20-points was the main reason Michigan came back to beat Illinois 73-65 in overtime Tuesday, the combination of Caris LeVert and Ricky Doyle is a close second.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s decision to insert freshman Ricky Doyle into the starting lineup recently continues to pay dividends for John Beilein and the Wolverines.

In 21 minutes, Doyle converted on 5-of-6 attempts from the field to finish with 13-points, several of which came courtesy of Caris LeVert as Michigan mounted their comeback late in the second half.

With Illinois forward Nnanna Egwu in foul trouble, Michigan looked to force action right to him, running several high pick and roll looks, creating easy buckets inside for Doyle.

“That’s something we’ve really tried to work on when we see a guy get into foul trouble,” Beilein said. “He’s a key. He’s been there. We’ve been playing against him for it seems like 10 years so it was really good to try to get him out of there.

“They only have one freshman that’s in the lineup and he’s a really good player, he played great in the first half. But it’s important, if you can get that other big guy out of there because he does protect the rim better than anybody they have.”

For Doyle, stepping up in a big time situation isn’t exactly new to him, coming up with key performances in Michigan’s early season win over Oregon and most recently in December at home against Syracuse.

A Michigan team that simply hasn’t been able to come up with a few uncalled for contributions off the bench this season, Tuesday’s win adds confidence to a unit that continues to get reps every single day.

“I mentioned this to our assistant coaches, I think one of the most gratifying things is many of the baskets down the stretch were scored by Ricky and Aubrey (Dawkins) in those last 10 minutes of the game,” Beilein said. “I think Caris got one and Zak got a couple earlier but it was just big to have the freshmen so, ‘oh.’

“We always talk about outliers on our team, we all know what Spike (Albrecht) in their freshman year and Zak (Irvin) have been outliers where they’re coming off the bench and just keying a win. It’s big to have, Ricky’s already been one in the Syracuse game, and for Aubrey today it was big.

“It’s good for Aubrey, it’s really good for Muhammad (Ali Abdur-Rahkman), good for Kam (Chatman), and they look at this and say that could be me next time. And that’s why we practice extra with the young guys.”

LeVert’s strong night can’t be forgotten either, finishing the evening with 19-points and five assists, showcasing an aggressive approach attacking the Illini defense, a necessary factor should Michigan be able to bounce back in conference play.


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