Wolverines to close non-conference roster with Central Florida road play

Michigan travel to Orlando to face central Florida in the MU’s non-conference final.
The Wolverines will play for the first time in 12 days after the Purdue Fort Wayne game was canceled (December 21) due to the Mastodons program’s COVID-19 protocols.
Thursday’s game wraps up a home series between UM and UCF.
Hunter Dickinson, who leads MU in goals and rebounds, has four consecutive double-doubles.

Thursday, December 30 – central Florida, 7 p.m.
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The University of Michigan men’s basketball team ends its non-conference and 2021 calendar year heading to Orlando, Fla. For the sixth road game of the preseason at Central Florida (8-2; 1-1 American). The tip at Addition Financial Arena is scheduled for 7:01 p.m. on ESPN2 with Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play) and Jon Crispin (analyst) on the call.

The Knights of Central Florida

• Thursday’s game is the second in a series at home and at home. UM won the first game in Ann Arbor with an 80-58 decision last season at the Crisler Center.

• Central Florida are 8-2 overall. After winning their first four games, the Knights suffered back-to-back losses to Oklahoma (65-62) and Auburn (85-68) before securing four more wins. UCF are 5-1 at home with the only loss to the Sooners.

• UM will face another senior squad as the UCF roster includes six seniors and three juniors. The senior group accounted for 36% of scores, 37% of rebounds and 53% of assists.

• Like the Wolverines, UCF saw a game called off due to COVID-19. The Knights’ game against rivals Florida State on Dec. 18 has been called off due to protocols within the Seminole program.

• Center Florida is led by junior guard Darin Green, Jr., who leads with 14.8 points per game and eight games in double digits. He leads the Knights with a record 29 three-pointers (40.8%), as 60% of his offensive attempts are at long range (71 of 119).

• Super senior goaltender Darius Perry (transfer to Louisville) gives UCF double-digit double digits with an average of 11.7 per game. With nearly a third of the team’s assists (52), he leads with 5.2 per game, while adding 3.8 rebounds per game.

• Junior forward CJ Walker (transfer from Oregon) has 9.6 points with a team record of 5.9 rebounds per game. Big senior super senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong (UNLV transfer) is averaging 5.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and leads the team with 18 blocks – 54% of the team’s total blocks (33).

• As a team, Central Florida shoots 79.4 percent from the free throw line, which is good for ninth in the country. Super senior goaltender Brandon Mahan (transfer to Texas A&M) is helping the cause as he’s a perfect 24-for-24 this season. He adds 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Last year: UM Bench Rallys to beat UCF

• After trailing up to 12 points behind central Florida (28-16) in the first half, the Michigan reserves – Chaundee Brown Jr., Brandon Johns Jr., Hunter Dickinson and Terrance Williams II – came in and ran 15-0 in a five-minute streak to help UM regain the lead and win, 80-58.

• After the 15-0 first half, UM enjoyed a 20-0 second half as Maize and Blue saw their lead stretch to 32. Overall UM has shot 49.2 percent from the field and hit for 40+ (44) rebounds for a fourth straight game.

• Brown Jr., set the pace for the Wolverines as he collected 11 of his 18 points, a team-high in the first half, draining four three-pointers and catching four rebounds and two assists. Dickinson recorded a fourth straight double-digit game with 14 points and seven rebounds. Williams II recorded his first career double-digit game with 10 points left with six boards.

COVID-19 protocol adjustment schedule

• Michigan’s game with Purdue Fort Wayne – scheduled for Tuesday, December 21 – has been canceled due to internal COVID-19 protocols within the Mastodons program. There are no plans to invent the game.

• With the elimination of the Purdue Fort Wayne game, MU has had seven games affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two seasons.

• Last season, Michigan followed a recommendation from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to suspend athletic activities in all sports, including games, teams and workouts due to a test positive for a variant of COVID-19. The 14-day stoppage forced UM to postpone four Big Ten regular-season games.

• Distribution of games affected by COVID-19:

  • December 9, 2020: NC state (canceled due to protocols in the Wolfpack program; replaced by Toledo)
  • January 27, 2021: at Penn State (PSU break postponed from Jan. 9; canceled due to closure of UM Athletics)
  • January 30, 2021: Indiana (canceled due to closure of UM Athletics)
  • February 3, 2021: at Northwestern (canceled due to closure of UM Athletics)
  • February 6, 2021: Michigan State (rescheduled for March 4 due to the closure of UM Athletics)
  • February 11, 2021: Illinois (postponed to March 2 due to the closure of UM Athletics)
  • December 21, 2021: Purdue Fort Wayne (canceled due to protocols within the Mastodons program)

What you should know

• Hunter Dickinson started 34 straight games and played in all 39 games of his two-year career.

• DeVante ‘Jones have started their last 68 consecutive games, while Brandon Johns Jr. has 60 consecutive games played.

• For a second season, Dickinson leads the MU in scoring (15.6) and rebounds (9.1). Eli brooks is second with 12.6 points per game and Caleb Houstan is third at 10.1.

• Jones recorded back-to-back double-digit games with a season-high 14 against Minnesota and then 13 against Southern Utah. He went 11 for 18 from the field and 3 for 7 in depth with nine assists (4.5 apg).

• In his last five games, Houstan has shot 50.0% (13 v 26) from long distance.

• Houstan (19) and Brooks (19) have 38 of UM’s 73 three-pointers – 52.0 percent.

• Houstan (4.3 rpg) has taken 32 of his 47 rebounds in his last six games – 68.1%.

• This season Brooks has grown to 24 for 27 (88.9%) from the free throw line. In fact, he’s 64 for 71 more (90.1%) over the past two seasons. For his career, Brooks is an 80% free throw shooter (80.8%; 110 for 136).

• Just behind Brooks is Houstan, who is 20 for 24 (83.3%) from the free throw line.

• Jones leads UM in assists with 39 (3.9 apg). Recently, he tied his season record with eight assists in Nebraska (December 7) – his first eight-under game was against UNLV (November 19) at the Roman Main Event in Las Vegas.

• In 28 games last season, Dickinson had 25 assists in total. This season (11 games), he already has 22, including a career record against Seton Hall (November 16). He has six games of 3+ assists.

• Dickinson has collected over 10 rebounds in his last four games, leading to four straight double-doubles. In fact, he’s got 10+ boards in five of his last six games, with a Season 14 record against San Diego State (Dec. 4)

• Moussa Diabate, who is second on UM with 5.8 rpg, spread his rebounds almost evenly (22 offensive, 36 defensive). He had his first career 10+ game with 13 against Minnesota (Dec. 11).

• Dickinson (12) and Diabate (10) have 22 of 36 blocks – 61.1 percent.

A Michigan win would be …

• To help Juwan howard win his 50th career match at UM; the fastest coach at 50 wins (71 games).

• Help UM ends its non-conference season with a 7-3 record.

• Help UM go 2-1 in real road games; 4-2 with added neutral games.

• To give Eli brooks his 113th career victory – the biggest at MU and the best among Big Ten players.

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