Michigan returns home to face UC Riverside on Sunday after spending the week in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. The Wolverines blew a nine-point lead in the 77-75 setback to LSU in their tournament opener before bouncing back with victories over Division II outfit Chaminade (102-64) and VCU (68-60) to finish in fifth place and hope to post their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“After the first one on Monday, we were disappointed but we huddled together and agreed to head back on the plane 2-1 would be a big accomplishment,” Michigan forward Duncan Robinson told reporters. “We just tried to band together and hopefully that sets the tone for us to move forward.” The Wolverines have never played UC Riverside and will take on their first Big West opponent since downing Long Beach State 85-61 in 2013. Michigan has won its last eight non-conference home games and John Beilein hopes his young squad focuses solely on the Highlanders with ninth-ranked North Carolina on deck in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday. UC Riverside ended a two-game slide with a 75-57 win against Western New Mexico and hopes to knock off a Power 5 opponent for the second time in less than a month following a 74-66 upset win over California on Nov. 11.
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ABOUT UC RIVERSIDE (2-2): Alex Larsson led the way with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor in the win against Western New Mexico to finish in double figures for the fourth time this season. Chance Murray scored eight of his season-best 14 points from the free throw line, while DJ Sylvester added 12 points and matched his career high with eight rebounds as the Highlanders limited the Mustangs to 30.2 percent shooting from the field. Brandon Rosser chipped in nine points and nine rebounds as UC Riverside forced 23 turnovers and recorded 12 steals.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (5-1): Robinson scored a game-high 18 points despite going 2-of-8 from 3-point range while Mo Wagner flirted with his second double-double of the season as he contributed 12 points and nine rebounds in the win against VCU. “I was just trying to continue to be aggressive without shooting from the outside,” Robinson said. “I was able to get shots that could get to the rim.” Charles Matthews is starting to live up to the preseason hype as the Kentucky transfer, who sat out last season, added 11 points against the Rams to finish the tournament with a 20.3 scoring average.
1. Matthews has scored 20 points or more in three games this season.
2. The Wolverines are 62-3 when scoring 80 plus-points under Beilein.
3. UC Riverside is averaging 19.3 turnovers in its last three games.
PREDICTION: Michigan 88, UC Riverside 68