Michigan wanted a boost after being upset by Iowa State this past weekend. The Wolverines got exactly what they needed against Long Beach State in a dominating 85-61 victory in the quarterfinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament Thursday.
The Wolverines got back to coach John Beilein‘s drive-and-kick three-point offense they have been known for since he took over the helm in Ann Arbor. Michigan was locked in from the opening tip and started 5-of-7 from behind the arc. The threes helped Michigan walk into the locker room with a 42-29 halftime lead.
In the second half, when the 49ers cut the lead to nine, Nik Stauskas came through with a three-pointer. When the lead was cut down again, Glenn Robinson III nailed a deep one, and when a little icing needed to be added, Caris LeVert dropped in his fourth and final three-pointer.
Michigan finished with a tournament record 14 made three-point field goals on 30 attempts. This team is built to break even more long-range records. Stauskas finished with a game-high 24 points and hit four three, and LeVert posted 20 points.
This offense is exactly what Michigan fans expected coming into the season. Now, with center Mitch McGary slowly being reintroduced after coming back from an ailing back, it will only get more potent.
McGary makes this so much easier because he is such an adept passer. He is still not as confident with his scoring yet, but he showed he can contribute nearly as effectively because of his intelligence. McGary draws defenses in because he can not be guarded by just one player. When a defender gets off of his man, McGary either finds the open player immediately, or makes the initial pass to another player who finds the open shooter. He also passes well out of the high post. Basically, McGary is playing like a point-center. He recorded only one assist against the 49ers, but his passes looked crisp.
No matter how tough Big Ten competitors Michigan State and Wisconsin play defense, Michigan has a way around it. If the wings are guarded, McGary will dominate the post. If McGary is doubled, he will find the open shooter.
Michigan shot an uncharacteristically low 28 percent from three in the loss to Iowa State, but no one should take that too seriously. The Wolverines that showed up against the 49ers are the real team and can be Big Ten champions.