ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After dealing with off-season back surgery, Zak Irvin is the first to admit he was a little rusty to start off his junior season.
On Wednesday, however, in Michigan’s 74-69 win against Minnesota, Irvin looked like the double-digit scorer of his previous season, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting and 11 rebounds in the win.
“My rhythm is starting to come back,” Irvin said. “"My shot was feeling good when I got out there."
And it looked like it.
In the first half alone, Irvin paced the Wolverines with 15 points, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, he finished 3-of-5 for the game. And he looked and played like an All-Big Ten performer, and U-M needed everyone of his points in what turned out to be a closer than expected contest.
"I think he's playing at the highest level he's played since he's been here," said U-M coach John Beilein. "Because he's putting it all together.”
Adding: “Now he's getting to the basket, he's shooting the ball well. We don't win without him right now, he's playing really well."
Irvin is averaging 10.3 points per game this season while shooting 30.1 percent from 3s. But his play in Big Ten is what stands out the most, in six conference games Irvin has averaged 13.8 points while shooting 46.4 percent from 3s, making 13-of-28 in the process.
“I really don’t pay attention to it,” Irvin said of his low three-point shooting percentage. “I kind of have that next game mentality. I knew I was struggling and wasn’t shooting the ball the way I wanted at the beginning of the year. But I knew I was going to get in the rhythm and I’m really starting to fell really good about my shot.”
And it seems he has found it.
“I knew it was going to take a couple games to get the rust off,” Irvin said. “Just being back out there getting my legs under me and being in shape.”
Michigan next plays at Nebraska this Saturday at 2 p.m.