Hunter Dickinson helps Michigan basketball respond with 72-58 win over San Diego State

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Just in case Michigan basketball needs a resume’ builder for a possible NCAA tournament at-large bid down the road, Saturday’s non-conference 72-58 victory over San Diego State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor was a step in the right direction.

The Wolverines (5-3), who start their rugged Big Ten schedule Tuesday at Nebraska, responded following blow-out nonconference losses to North Carolina and Arizona, along with a homecourt setback to Seton Hall.

Michigan’s 7-foot-1 Hunter Dickinson, who had taken just 21 shots in Michigan’s three previous games, turned in a much-needed double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds against the Aztecs (5-3), a perennially strong opponent from the Mountain West coached by former U-M assistant Brian Dutcher.

Dickinson, who also hit all three of his three-point attempts, got plenty of support in the victory as freshman forward Caleb Houstan added 17points, while fifth-year senior Eli Brooks, despite some cold shooting spells, added 10.

Michigan, hampered by miscues handling the ball and poor three-point shooting of late, cured its recent woes by hitting 11 of 20 from beyond the arc (55%) and committing just 13 turnovers.

Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) reacts to hitting three-point basket against San Diego State in the first half in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) reacts to hitting three-point basket against San Diego State in the first half in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

San Diego State, which went ice cold in the second half (9 of 27 for 33.3%), got a team-high 22 points from senior guard Matt Bradley, who was the only Aztec to score in double fitures.

After leading by only two at halftime (36-34), Michigan went up 49-43 on Dickinson’s rebound putback with 14:01 remaining. The Wolverines stretched their lead to 57-43 with an 8-0 run thanks to a jumper form the wing by Terrance Williams II.

U-M increased its advantage to 61-43 on a Brooks triple from the wing with 7:39 to go and coasted home for the victory.

After slow offensive start to the game by both teams, San Diego State led 10-7 on a steal and layup by Keith Dinwiddie with 11:13 left in the half.

But U-M answered with 13-3 run to take a 20-13 advantage at the 10-minute mark thanks to three-pointers by Houstan and Brandon Johns, along with four points off the bench from freshman guard Frankie Collins.

San Diego State stopped the bleeding on Bradley’s layup and free throw just 23 seconds later to cut the deficit to 20-16.

The Wolverines, however, went up 28-18 with 7:27 left in the half on a basket by Devante Jones.

The Aztecs fought back with a 9-2 run of their own on Bradley’s layup with 3:40 remaining to force Michigan coach Juwan Howard to burn a timeout while holding a 30-27 lead.

After San Diego State got within 30-29 on Bradley’s layup with 3:11 to go in the half and took the lead briefly on a jumper by Bradley, Dickinson gave the Wolverines a 36-34 halftime advantage with only four seconds remaining on a 3-pointer from the right wing, which was Michigan’s sixth triple of the half.

It was an encouraging first half for Dickinson, who had team-high 12 first-half points, while the 6-8 Houstan added nine. And as a team, Michigan committed just six turnovers and shot six of 11 from beyond the arc (54.5 percent).

On the down side, Brooks went just one of eight from the floor, while freshman starter Moussa Diabate played only seven first-half minutes (two points) and exited to the locker room after reportedly feeling ill. Diabate, who made his first career start in Wednesday’s 21-point loss at North Carolina, did not return.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Hunter Dickinson ignites Michigan basketball past San Diego State