If its season opener was any indication, Michigan might need some time to get over the loss of a pair of backcourt stars and Mitch McGary's potential long-term absence in the frontcourt.
Fortunately for the seventh-ranked Wolverines, they have another opportunity to work on adjusting Tuesday night against South Carolina State.Michigan (1-0) went into halftime tied with Division I newcomer UMass-Lowell on Friday, shooting 37.7 percent in a 69-42 win. Sophomore guard Caris LeVert was one of the bright spots with a team-best 17 points, going 6 of 11 from the floor.LeVert averaged 2.3 points and shot 31.5 percent last season while backing up national player of the year Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., both of whom are in the NBA."Great learning time for us, and glad to get a win," coach John Beilein said. "The offense had to make a couple shots. The guys that are out there on that floor right now ... they never had to make those big plays in games that Trey and Tim used to always make."McGary was forced to sit out because of an ailing back, and his status is uncertain. The 6-foot-10 sophomore forward averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds during the Wolverines' run to the national title game last season, and he was named a preseason All-American last week."He's progressing well, and that's the update," Beilein said before Friday's game. "He's really doing well. We're just cautiously bringing him along slowly."Junior forward Jon Horford grabbed a team-best 12 rebounds in his sixth collegiate start. The team's other starting frontcourt player, Glenn Robinson III, had 15 points and seven boards.A similar performance from those two players Tuesday may be enough to help Michigan get past South Carolina State (1-1). After losing 85-69 at Marshall in their season opener Friday, the Bulldogs needed overtime to top NAIA opponent St. Andrews 59-55 on Sunday.Matthew Hezekiah, averaging a team-best 18.0 points, scored four of his 17 during his team's 8-0 run to end the game, including the go-ahead tip-in with 1:04 remaining. Senior guard Adama Adams was the only other South Carolina State player to score in double figures with 16 and is the only other one on the roster averaging at least at 10 at 10.5.Heading into its first matchup with Michigan, South Carolina State is 0-19 all-time against ranked opponents and has lost the last eight of those by an average of 28.0 points.Michigan has won 17 straight at home against non-conference opponents and hasn't lost in its last 28 matchups there with unranked non-conference teams.