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.


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.


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.

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Michigan Wolverines vs Marquette Golden Eagles

Michigan faces its stiffest test of the season when it travels to New York City to tangle with Marquette in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (Enter Contest). The Wolverines opened the season with a 76-58 victory against Howard before knocking off IUPUI 77-65 in the regional portion of the tournament. They hope to improve to 5-1 in games played in the Big Apple under John Beilein.

Marquette followed up its impressive 95-71 road win against Vanderbilt by brushing aside Howard 81-49 to improve to 93-7 in home openers. The Golden Eagles are 6-13 all-time against the Wolverines, but won the most recent matchup 79-65 in 2009. The winner will advance to the 2K Classic final against either Pittsburgh or SMU on Friday.


The emergence of junior forward D.J. Wilson continues to be one of the major storylines of the young season for the Wolverines as he registered seven points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in the win against IUPUI. Zak Irvin scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures, along with Derrick Walton Jr. (13), Mo Wagner (13) and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12). Irvin needs two more 3-pointers to move into seventh place on Michigan’s all-time list. Three players inked letters of intent during the early signing period, including shooting guard Jordan Poole and forward Isaiah Livers. The Wolverines are 50-1 under coach John Beilein when scoring 80 or more points.


Katin Reinhardt and Jajuan Johnson each scored 14 points while Haanif Cheatham filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists in the win against Howard. Johnson looks poised for a breakout senior season as he’s averaging 17.5 points and 3.5 steals in his first two games after putting up 10.2 points per contest in 2015-16. Sam Hauser, who was named the Big East Freshman of the Week after scoring 14 points against Vanderbilt, went 3-of-4 from 3-point range en route to 10 points against the Bison. Marquette is 32-9 in regular-season tournaments since 2004-05.

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Pittsburgh Panthers vs SMU Mustangs

Just two games into the season, Pittsburgh and SMU already have two common opponents for comparison purposes when they meet Thursday in the semifinals of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden in New York City (Enter Contest). This is the first game all-time between the programs.

Pittsburgh survived Eastern Michigan 93-90 in double overtime of the season opener last Friday and posted a 19-point victory over Gardner-Webb the last time out. Cameron Johnson scored four 3-pointers against Gardner-Webb, while Michael Young had 18 points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes off the bench.

The Mustangs easily dispatched the same two teams by a combined 55 points. Semi Ojeleye had 26 points in a 72-44 rout of Gardner-Webb and added 18 and eight rebounds as SMU led by as many as 29 in a 91-64 pasting of Eastern Michigan. Mustangs coach Tim Jankovich, who was 9-0 last season filling in for suspended coach Larry Brown, is off to a fast start since being named head coach in July after the 76-year-old Brown’s resignation.


Senior forward Sheldon Jeter added 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against Gardner-Webb. It was his second career double-double. Forward Jamel Artis collected 11 points and six assists in that game. Pittsburgh shot 53.8 percent from the floor and drained 13-of-26 shots from the arc. Despite lack of effort at times, Pitt has scored 90 or more points in each of the first two games of first-year coach Kevin Stallings’ up-tempo offense for the first time since 1989-90.  Young was named the ACC co-Player of the Week on Monday, averaging 22 points on 65 percent shooting in his first two games with 17 rebounds and six assists. Pitt is 7-0 in 2K Classic Events (formerly Coaches vs. Cancer), claimed the tournament championship in 2010 and is 46-45 all-time at MSG.


Sophomore guard Jarrey Foster scored a career-high 18 points against Eastern Michigan and shot 8-of-9, while senior forward Ben Moore had 11 points and six rebounds as the Mustangs shot 53 percent from the floor and dominated the boards 44-26. Ojeleye, a 6-7 transfer from Duke who played in 23 games there in two seasons, was named the American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week on Monday after tallying 44 points and 22 rebounds in his first two games. Sterling Brown, a 6-6 guard, is averaging 11.5 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the first two games. Jankovich served as an assistant coach under Stallings at Vanderbilt from 1999-2003.

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