Michigan entered the game as a 22.5-point favorite over UMass-Lowell so winning by 26 was pretty much expected. Junior forward Isaiah Livers sat out with a groin injury, so a few other guys had to step up. Here are some things that I noticed in the 86-60 win.
1. Another undersized team, a lot more Jon Teske
Every time Michigan faces an undersized opponent, Teske immediately becomes option No. 1 for the Wolverines on offense. We saw it against Appalachian State, Creighton, Elon and Presbyterian. In those four games, Teske scored 17, 17, 16 and 15 respectively on 25-of-43 from the floor. The tallest player for UMass Lowell was just 6-7 and only 195 pounds and was simply no match for Teske as U-M's big man got off to a 5-for-6 start with 11 points just seven minutes into the game. He also grabbed four rebounds during that stretch. He finished the game with 25 points and eight boards. Teske has been much more involved in the offense under Juwan Howard against everyone, but it's easy to see why he's used so much when he's so much bigger than his opponents.
2. Eli Brooks is oozing with confidence
He didn't have to do a ton against UMass Lowell but it's more about how he's doing things. Whether it's while shooting from three, driving to the basket or pulling up for a mid-range jumper, he's doing it without hesitation. He finished the game against UMass Lowell with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and did so in a way that I'm sure he's fine with. He didn't rush or force anything and barely looks like he's breaking a sweat out there as he does everything within the normal framework of the offense and the game.
3. This was a great game to rest Isaiah Livers
You obviously never want a player to suffer injury, but they happen. You'd rather Livers not be injured, but since he is, this wasn't a bad time for it to happen. Livers' groin issue is going to keep him out "indefinitely" but he obviously wasn't missed against UMass Lowell and it gave Brandon Johns Jr. a great opportunity to see what starting a game is like. Michigan is now off until Jan. 5 when it travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State, which may give Livers enough time to heal up and return to the lineup. Indefinitely could mean for the rest of the season or it may end up meaning about two weeks — we shall see.
4. Brandon Johns Jr. is a starter
That's an obvious statement after literally starting today against UMass Lowell, but what I mean is that he's ready. He didn't look out of place, he played within the offense and provided an athletic spark as a rebounder and defender. If Livers does end up missing several games, Johns should be able to step in admirably. He won't provide the offense or outside shooting that Livers does, but he's arguably better on defense and is definitely a better rebounder. He's not useless as a scorer or shooter either, it's just that Livers was on fire before getting hurt. Johns has taken a big step as a sophomore and no longer looks like a liability out there. He's good enough to play and he knows it, which is key for young players.
5. Christian Lutete is a baller
Obviously this one isn't about Michigan but in a blowout you have to take what's given. I was really impressed with Lutete's afternoon. At 6-5, 200 pounds and with long arms, he has the body of a high major player and the game to go along with it. He led his team with 21 points and did so in a variety of ways. He stepped out and hit two three pointers, knocked down a few mid-range jumpers and finished at the rim a couple times as well. He didn't look to be an elite athlete and at only 6-5, he's a bit of a tweener, but I still really liked what he did. He could definitely play at a bigger school than UMass Lowell and showed that against Michigan throughout the entire game.
What did you think of Johns Jr. in the starting lineup? How would you like to see Juwan Howard handle his rotation moving forward? Comment below!!!