ANN ARBOR — Michigan got up big in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against Ball State, only to let the overmatched visitors back in the game. Michigan allowed no such comeback in the second half, pulling away for an 85-65victory at Crisler Center.
Isaiah Livers led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Franz Wagner added 14 points as Michigan improved to 3-0.
Michigan led by as many as 20 in the first half but settled for a seven-point halftime edge. Given the overtime scare against Oakland the last time out, it was fair to wonder if this was headed down a similar path, especially after Ball State scored to open the second half.
Instead, the Wolverines steadily built their lead, getting up by as many as 25 with 8:50 to go. Ball State never got it closer than the final margin of 19.
K.J. Walton scored 20 points to pace the Cardinals, who fell to 0-2.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard stuck with his 10-man rotation for all but the final minutes. Hunter Dickinson (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Chaundee Brown (nine points) once again provided a punch off the bench.
Michigan hosts UCF on Sunday in what figures to be a step up in competition.
It took Wagner fewer than three minutes to surpass his scoring total from Sunday’s game, putting up a quick seven as Michigan raced to a 9-2 lead.
Michigan put on a clinic on both ends to go up 23-8 midway through the half.
The Wolverines kept pouring it on. Livers swished a 3 in transition. Dickinson cleaned up a miss around the basket. Michigan led 34-14.
Ball State countered, using 3s and free throws to go on a 10-0 run. It was the start of a 19-6 run to close the half, making it 40-33 at the break.
Michigan came out of halftime hot. Mike Smith drained a baseline jumper for two of his 10 points. Eli Brooks followed with a triple. Wagner canned a corner 3. Michigan led 58-42.
Livers continued to find seams in the defense, doing much of his damage in the midrange. Brown forced a turnover and buried a 3 to put Michigan ahead by 19.
It was a similar spot to the first half, and this time the Wolverines pounced.
Michigan put the exclamation point on the victory with three minutes left. Brandon Johns Jr. grabbed an offensive rebound, his fifth board, found a cutting Livers, who dumped a pass to Dickinson for an emphatic slam.
Adrien Nuñez, Jace Howard, and Jaron Faulds made their season debuts, playing the final 2:39. Nuñez and Howard, the coach’s son, were the lone scholarship players not to see the floor to that point. Faulds scored with a patient post move for Michigan’s final field goal.