Nov. 12, 2013
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations
Michigan began the regular season on Friday (Nov. 8) with a win against UMass-Lowell. The Wolverines got off to a rough start on offense, shooting 26 percent (6-for-23) on field goals in the first half for just 23 points; yet the Maize and Blue played solid defense, keeping the score tied 23-23 at halftime.
In the second half, the Wolverines increased their defensive intensity, preventing the River Hawks from scoring for more than nine minutes. This added intensity and opportunities created off turnovers provided Michigan with the offensive spark it needed to take control of the game, culminating with a 26-2 Wolverine run and eventual 69-42 victory.
In hindsight, Michigan's first-half struggles provided the young Michigan team with an important lesson about overcoming adversity.
"That's a blessing," said head coach John Beilein. "We were averaging about 23 points in the first 10 minutes going into that game. That was good for us to have that shock to our system and then be able to bust out in the second half."
With the River Hawks behind them, the Wolverines will take the court again tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 12), against South Carolina State, which is coming off its worst two seasons in program history, including a 6-24 (2-14 MEAC) mark in 2012-13. Led by head coach Murray Garvin, who took up the post last February following the resignation of Tim Carter, they are looking to end their stretch at the bottom of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a team that appears to be on the rise. Despite their losing record last season, they finished the year with key upsets, including a victory against North Carolina A&T, which went on to become the MEAC tournament champion.
South Carolina State's season has started with one win and one loss. On Friday (Nov. 8), the Bulldogs' season began with a trip to Marshall, where they were defeated, 85-69, by the Thundering Herd. On Sunday (Nov. 10) at home against Division II opponent St. Andrews, South Carolina State hung on for a 59-55 win.
The Bulldogs will bring experience against a young Michigan squad, as they return four of their five starters from last season. Among these starters is senior Matthew Hezekiah, a 6-11 forward named to the MEAC's preseason first team after earning All-MEAC second team recognition in 2012-13. Hezekiah averaged 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season, ranking him eighth in scoring and third in rebounding in the MEAC.
"There isn't enough I can say about (Hezkiah)," said Garvin following the Bulldogs' win against St. Andrews. "We have to do a better job of giving him the basketball, because it gives us a chance to win when he's effective."
Darryl Palmer, a 6-7 sophomore, joins Hezekiah in the frontcourt, having averaged 9.5 points per game his freshman year -- which secured him a spot on the MEAC's 2012-13 All-Rookie team.
Hezekiah and Palmer not only have experience scoring and rebounding but played a key role for the Bulldogs on defense last season as well, combining for 80 blocked shots.
"They're going to come after us, trying to create turnovers," said Beilein. "They have tremendous quickness and length. We're going to have to play really well."
The greatest change for South Carolina State's lineup this year will come at the point guard position, following the graduation of four-year starter Khalif Toombs. Stepping into his place this year is senior Adama "Louis" Adams, who spelled Toombs at point guard in previous seasons.
With South Carolina State's talented frontcourt, rebounding will be an important matchup to watch when the Wolverines and the Bulldogs meet.
"(South Carolina State) had 30 offensive rebounds and 50 rebounds against Marshall the other day," Beilein said. "We've got to make sure we block out again. They shoot the ball from the outside, and they loop a player inside, but they're going to try and get the ball off the glass more than anything."
The game against South Carolina State will tip off at 7 p.m. inside Crisler Center and will be video streamed on the Big Ten Digital Network as well as MGoBlueTV.