Michigan sure didn't look like a struggling offensive team trying to figure it out tonight. The Wolverines went into Lincoln and opened conference play with a 102-67 win over Nebraska. Here's what stood out...
Brandon Johns Jr. isn't broken
With Moussa Diabate out with an illness, Johns stepped back into the starting lineup and did not disappoint. The senior had 16 points at halftime and finished with 20 on 6-of-9 shooting. He also went 2-of-3 from long range and grabbed five rebounds. He did all of it in just 20 minutes and really looked great in all facets. He was aggressive, efficient, energetic and solid at the free throw line where he went 6-of-7. Before tonight it looked like Johns had regressed entering his senior season. Tonight, he looks like he should be the starter as he was at the beginning of the season. Diabate brings a lot to the table, but if Johns can replicate tonight's performance regularly, it's going to be tough to make a decision. It's a good problem for Juwan Howard to have.
Moving the ball
Tonight Michigan was extremely efficient on offense because of the way the ball moved around. The Wolverines shot 51% from the floor and assisted on 25-of-39 made baskets. That's why they were able to score 102 points and that's why they went 15-of-32 from three-point range. When the players and ball both move rapidly and with a purpose, buckets come easy. We hadn't seen much of that out of Michigan through the first eight games, but things were clicking tonight. Nebraska isn't a very good team, but Michigan still did what it did on the road and in the conference opener. That's valuable.
Terrance Williams stepped up
With Diabate out, and Johns back in the starting lineup, someone needed to step up and contribute off the bench. That someone was Terrance Williams tonight. As a tweener, Williams has struggled to truly find his role this season. Is he a big, strong, aggressive three, or is he an undersized, athletic stretch four? Through eight games he hadn't quite figured it out yet, but tonight he was on point. He also had 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting including 3-for-3 from three-point range. He also chipped in three assists. Tonight he looked more like the big, strong three man, but he also grabbed five rebounds.
It was also great to see Zeb Jackson back in the lineup and playing well. He logged 15 minutes and scored five points and grabbed five boards. Caleb Houstan also had another solid night, giving him back-to-back plus performances. The touted freshman scored 16 and went 4-for-7 from downtown. If the freshmen, and even sophomores, keep coming along, and Williams and Johns can be these versions of themselves more often, Michigan is going to be as good as everyone thought they'd be at the beginning of the year. Especially when Diabate returns to the court.