ANN ARBOR — How’s that for a bounce-back performance? Michigan, after dropping its first game of the season, responded with an 87-63 win over Maryland on Tuesday.
The Wolverines protected the ball, caught fire from 3, and set the tone defensively. They looked like the team that had dominated three ranked opponents in a row earlier this month, not the one that fell flat at Minnesota on Saturday.
Isaiah Livers led all scorers with 20, his biggest output since the third game of the season, and Franz Wagner added 15.
The Wolverines led by at least 17 for the entire second half. They improved to 12-1 and became the first Big Ten team to reach seven league wins.
Eli Brooks returned after missing Saturday’s game with a strained right foot. The senior guard started and played 22 minutes.
Michigan shot 12-of-24 from downtown while holding Maryland to a 4-for-19 mark. Livers made four triples; Smith had three, all in the first four minutes.
The Terrapins, true to their name, got off to a slow start. Michigan led 8-0 and 17-3. Maryland cut the margin to single digits for a moment, but a strong end to half made it 42-25 at the break. Six of Michigan’s Big Ten wins have been by double digits.
That includes an 84-73 at Maryland on Dec. 31. Michigan freshman center Hunter Dickinson had 26 points that night, missing just one shot. On Tuesday, Dickinson was double teamed as soon he touched the ball and scored just three points. Unlike at times against Minnesota, he showed patience finding the right teammate.
Michigan committed 20 turnovers against the Gophers and lost by 18. Michigan had just 10 turnovers against Maryland, which fell to 8-7 (2-6).
Smith, held scoreless against Minnesota for the first time in his college career, scored 11, all in the first half, to go along with a team-high six assists. Brandon Johns Jr. scored a season-high 11 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Freshman guard Zeb Jackson has started to work in to the rotation. He played six minutes before Juwan Howard went deep into his bench for the final 2:45. Austin Davis added nine points in 10 minutes off the bench in place of Dickinson.
With 16:22 left, three technical fouls were issued after Maryland’s Darryl Morsell scored through contact. Morsell got one for demanding a foul call, as did Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. Michigan’s bench also received one for some reason. Michigan, thanks to Livers’ free throw shooting, gained three points out of the ordeal and went up 55-34. Brooks’ basket on the ensuing possession pushed the lead to 23.
The margin was 18 with a little more than seven minutes left before Michigan’s run slammed the door for good. Johns had a personal 4-0 spurt, then Wagner did the same to make it 80-56 with 5:22 left.
Smith hit three early 3s as Michigan went ahead 11-3. Livers caught fire next, draining two in a 30-second span to make it 17-3 with 14:16 left in the half. Maryland, at that point, was 1-for-5 from the field with four turnovers.
Johns hit a corner 3 that put the Wolverines up 22-7. The Terrapins chipped away. Hakim Hart, starting at point guard in place of Eric Ayala, hit a 3 to make it 28-19 with 5:35 left in the half.
Smith’s impressive acceleration and finish in transition and Wagner’s 3 in the final seconds made it 42-25 Michigan at half. The Wolverines shot 8-of-14 from deep in the first half.
Brooks opened the second half with a triple off a well-designed play and feed from Wagner, and the Wolverines never looked back.
Luke Wilson, a senior walk-on guard making his first appearance of the season, drew a charge in the final minutes that had the entire Michigan bench, including Howard, standing and cheering.
Michigan visits Purdue on Friday.