Hunter Dickinson helps Michigan basketball avoid upset vs. Oakland

Michigan basketball was favored by over 30 points against Oakland.

Vegas definitely got that one wrong.

The Wolverines and Golden Grizzlies went to overtime at Crisler Center on Sunday after trading leads throughout regulation.

Michigan was sloppy and missed open shots. Oakland, meanwhile, made enough plays and stole enough passes to lead for much of the second half.

But the Grizzlies did not have freshman center Hunter Dickinson.

Dickinson did not check into the second half until the 11:23 mark — and then proceeded to lead Michigan to a tighter-than-expected 81-71 win by scoring 19 points.

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Oakland forward Daniel Oladapo (4) makes a layup against Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) during the first half at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.

Huge upset avoided

Without Dickinson, Michigan could have suffered its worst loss since 2014, when the Wolverines lost at home as heavy favorites to NJIT. They were actually favored by more against Oakland, which entered the game 0-3 and was playing its fourth game in five days — and also dealt with a 21-day pause earlier this fall due to COVID-related issues.

This would have been a stunning loss. And it very nearly materialized.

The Wolverines trailed by two at halftime after a careless first half that saw them commit 15 turnovers against the Grizzlies’ zone defense. And they trailed for most of the second half, too. Neither team led by more than one possession from the 8:34 mark of the second half to the 3:34 mark of overtime.

But then Dickinson entered the game.

Dickinson gives Michigan a major boost

The freshman center was scoreless in the first half (although he had a nifty assist and passed well against the zone). He waited nearly nine minutes to check into the game in the second half — and spurred Michigan’s comeback.

He was assisted for a dunk by former AAU teammate Terrance Williams, drew a foul and hit two free throws, assisted Williams for a basket, scored off a put-back while being fouled and hit the ensuing free throw and then scored again on the following possession. Dickinson, the highest-ranked recruit in Michigan’s freshman class, has a great feel for the game and is a high-level passer. At the end of the game, he was unstoppable, as the Wolverines continually fed him down low. He scored six points in overtime.

Story continues

Too many turnovers

Michigan will not like film review of this game.

The Wolverines finished the game with a whopping 20 turnovers — including 15 in the first half. They simply could not figure out Oakland’s zone defense. In the first 20 minutes, the Wolverines had 15 turnovers on 37 possessions for a whopping 40.5% turnover rate.

It was uncharacteristically sloppy basketball from a team that turned it over on just 15.3% of possessions last season — No. 11 in the nation. And it gave Oakland a chance for the upset.

Michigan only seemed to grow more frustrated as the turnovers piled up, and senior forward and captain Isaiah Livers appeared to get into a verbal confrontation with coach Juwan Howard.

But the Wolverines only turned it over five times in the second half and overtime combined, and leaned on Dickinson down low to boost them to victory.

Contact Orion Sang at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball avoids upset vs. Oakland, 81-71, in OT


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