Michigan Wolverines vs Southern Methodist Mustangs
Michigan got a first-hand look last year at how good of a fit Tim Jankovich could be if he ever took over for Larry Brown at Southern Methodist, which handed the Wolverines their most lopsided loss of the 2015-16 campaign. The Mustangs look to remain perfect under Jankovich on Friday when they square off against Michigan in the championship game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden (Enter Contest).
Jankovich served as the interim coach at the beginning of last season while Brown was serving a NCAA-imposed nine-game suspension, leading SMU to exactly half of its wins during a program-record 18-0 start. One of those victories was an 82-58 rout at home against Michigan. SMU improved to 12-0 in two seasons under Jankovich with Thursday’s 76-67 semifinal win over Pittsburgh, holding the Panthers 29 points below their 96-point average entering the contest. The Wolverines earned their spot in the title game with Thursday’s 79-61 victory over Marquette, leading by as many as 29 points in the second half.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (3-0)
One game after posting career highs of 14 boards and five blocks in a win over IUPUI, 6-10 junior forward D.J. Wilson (8.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks) continued to show he might be coming into his own, recording his first career double-double in his first career start Thursday with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Leading scorer Zak Irvin (14 points, 5.7 rebounds) led Michigan offensively for the second straight contest with 16 points, but the Wolverines placed five players in double figures and received 29 points from their bench.
ABOUT SMU (3-0)
American Athletic Conference Player of the Week Semi Ojeleye (22.7 points, nine rebounds) continued to play up to that title against the Panthers, scoring 20 of his career-high 24 points in the second half as the Mustangs outscored Pitt 45-34 to rally from a halftime deficit. Preseason all-conference second-team selection Shake Milton (13 points, 4.6 assists) finished with 14 points and has scored in double figures in each of SMU’s first three contests. Sterling Brown (10.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists) enjoyed another well-rounded performance against the Panthers with nine points, six boards and three assists, but he was ejected late following his second technical foul after emphatically applauding in the face of Pitt forward Jamel Artis after his defense resulted in a traveling violation. Southern Methodist has won both of the previous meetings, including last year’s rout in Dallas and a 62-51 triumph in Ann Arbor the previous.