ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A week after setting career highs in scoring and rebounding, Evan Smotrycz achieved another milestone -- his first double-double.
Smotrycz had 17 points and 11 rebounds in Michigan's 87-57 victory over Alabama A&M on Saturday. The sophomore forward played only 22 minutes and attempted just five field goals, but he's looking ever more comfortable in the Wolverines' offense.Smotrycz went 4 of 5 from the field and is 15 of 19 over his last three games. He's shooting 56 percent on the season after finishing at 40 percent as a freshman."It's because his shot selection is much better," coach John Beilein said. "He's just got to let the game come to him. I think he's realizing that."Trey Burke led the Wolverines (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) with 19 points, and Zack Novak and Tim Hardaway Jr. contributed 13 each. Michigan (9-2) shot 55 percent from the field, 63 percent in the second half.Casey Canty scored 15 points for the Bulldogs (2-4). Alabama A&M was playing its first game since Dec. 3 because of a break for finals."That's a tough matchup for us," Bulldogs coach Willie Hayes said. "You are talking about a team with speed, strength and that can really shoot the ball. I was very happy with our effort in the first half, and I warned them at halftime that we needed to keep up the effort. We didn't do that."It was Michigan's second consecutive game against a Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent. The Wolverines beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 63-50 on Tuesday.Michigan took an early 13-2 lead on a nice lob from Novak to Jordan Morgan for a layup. Novak made it 22-9 with a dunk.The Wolverines led 41-27 after the first half, then went on a 15-2 run to start the second."They're really going to make us play a fast pace, which we're comfortable with, as long as we do not hurry," Beilein said. "We'll see that style again."Smotrycz had 20 points and nine rebounds -- both career highs at the time -- in a win over Oakland last Saturday. He's improved on the boards since last season, which is important on a team that isn't known for its rebounding.Smotrycz made all three of his 3-point attempts against Alabama A&M."Open shots are just kind of finding me," Smotrycz said. "Sometimes the hardest ones to make are the ones where no one's even near you, but I've been fortunate enough to knock those down -- so knock on wood that hopefully that continues."The Wolverines have won four straight since a loss at Virginia on Nov. 29. They have one more tuneup remaining, at home against Bradley on Thursday night, before opening Big Ten play against Penn State on Dec. 29.Although Michigan was never in danger of losing to UAPB, the Wolverines allowed a late run in that game and struggled with turnovers. They committed 15 more against Alabama A&M."They get after you a little bit," Novak said. "It's good to get that experience, especially going into the Big Ten season."Beilein was able to play his reserves extensively down the stretch. Freshman Carlton Brundidge, who had played only 15 minutes all season, had three points and two rebounds in 13 minutes on Saturday.The Wolverines shot 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the second half and were 10 of 22 for the game."We put together 40 minutes of some consistency to our game," Beilein said. "The thing that we just will shore up and work at is decision making, with turnovers."Jeremy Ingram scored 14 points for Alabama A&M. Jeremy Crutcher added 12 and Brandon Allen contributed 10.The Bulldogs shot only 32 percent from the field but made nine 3-pointers. They'll be right back on the court Monday night against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.