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Michigan holds off second-half push, beats Tarleton State 65-54

James Hawkins, The Detroit News on

Published in Basketball

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Coming off a lopsided loss to Arizona that had some players frustrated and disconnected, Michigan coach Juwan Howard wanted to see better effort and energy from his team from start to finish.

It didn’t exactly happen during stretches of the first and second halves of Wednesday’s game against Tarleton State as the turnovers piled up at an alarming rate and a 16-point lead dwindled down to three points.

Still, the No. 20 Wolverines managed to stave off a second-half push from Tarleton State and used a late run to pull away for a 65-54 win at Crisler Center.

Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks led the way with 15 points and earned the 109th win of his career, surpassing the all-time mark set by former teammates Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske and becoming the winningest player in program history.

Brooks needs 26 more wins to top the NCAA record of 134 wins held by Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski (2012-17). Duke great Shane Battier ranks second with 131 wins.

Freshman forward Caleb Houstan and freshman forward Moussa Diabate each added 14 points and sophomore center Hunter Dickinson finished with nine points and 10 rebounds for Michigan (4-2), which closed the game on a 10-2 run over the final four minutes but finished with 21 turnovers.

 

After closing the first half on a 10-2 run, Michigan picked up right where it left off thanks to Brooks. He drained a 3-pointer, found sophomore center Hunter Dickinson for a dunk and came away with a steal that led to two free throws as the Wolverines pushed their lead to 40-24 with 17:21 left to play.

But just when it looked like Michigan had cleaned things up and were on the verge of turning it into a blowout, turnovers crept back up and Tarleton State chipped the deficit down to nine four times, the last at the 8:49 mark.

Houstan and Diabate helped keep the Texans at bay and pushed the margin back to double digits on numerous occasions. The two combined to score nine consecutive points for Michigan, the last two on a pair of free throws from Diabate to make it 52-41 with 8:32 remaining.

Still, the Wolverines struggled to close it out. Tarleton State ripped off an 8-0 run during a three-minute stretch that saw Diabate miss the front end of a one-and-one, two turnovers from Brooks and a Dickinson shot at the rim get blocked to pull within 52-49 at the 6:06 mark.

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