Central Michigan finished up the non-conference portion of their schedule on Saturday night at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., falling to the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines, 88-73, despite Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. sitting out the game with an ankle injury.
Michigan jumped out to a 31-18 lead after All-American point guard Trey Burke hit a jump-shot with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half. The Wolverines would go into halftime with a 46-29 lead. Burke scored 17 points of his 22 in the first half.
Forward Glenn Robinson III also had 10 points in the first half for the Wolverines and finished with 20 points for the game. Freshman Caris LeVert started in place of Hardaway. He scored nine points and dished out five assists.
The Chippewas were not able to cut into the deficit at all in the second half, but did not fall much further behind, due in part to big man Olivier Mbaigoto, who scored 12 of his team-leading 14 points after halftime.
"I'm really proud of our ballclub tonight, like I have been all season," CMU head coach Keno Davis said. "There wasn't much predicted of us this year and I think we've surpassed a lot of people's expectations already. This was a great opportunity for us; to play against the No. 2 team in the country. The start of the game took its toll on us, but it wasn't surprising to me to see how much we fought to keep the game respectable because we worked so hard when it might have been easier to let the game get away from us."
Three other CMU players also scored in double digits. Guards Austin Keel and Derrick Richardson Jr. each had 11 points. Senior Kyle Randall also had 10 points, including eight in the first half.
The other Wolverine who scored in double digits was wing Nik Stauskas, who poured in 19 points, including hitting 5-of-8 three-point attempts.
Both teams shot the ball very well inside the three-point arc. CMU made 20-of-34 two-point shots (58.8 percent), including 14-of-17 in the second half. UM made 24-of-39 two-point shots (61.5 percent), including hitting 16-of-21 in the first half. Michigan made 11-of-29 three-point shots (37.9 percent) and CMU hit 8-of-25 three-point shots.
The biggest surprise of the game might have been in the rebounding column, where CMU outperformed UM, pulling down 38 rebounds compared to Michigan's 29.
Another bright spot for the Chippewas was walk-on freshman Spencer Krannitz, who had eight points, all in the first half, and led CMU in rebounding with nine boards.
"We knew going into this game that if we didn't rebound with Michigan, that the game would be over before it started," Davis said. "We had to make sure that even though we were undersized, that we chased down all the rebounds from all positions. It's really been our focus, especially with Zac Saylor out because we don't have a true post player. That paid dividends for us tonight."
Davis also noted that Saylor is day-to-day and should be back at some point in conference play, but could not be specific about which game he would be back in action.
Central Michigan struggled with ball control, turning the ball over 15 times, whereas Michigan only had three turnovers in the entire game. Michigan had 21 assists compared to just 13 for the Chippewas.
Central Michigan will be back in action on Thursday when they host UM-Dearborn in an exhibition before opening their Mid-American Conference schedule on January 9 at McGuirk Arena against Bowling Green.
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