Livers leads unbeaten Michigan against UCF

NCAA Basketball

It’s no coincidence that Michigan looks like a different basketball team when Isaiah Livers is healthy and productive.

Livers had a number of nagging injuries that limited him to 21 games last season. He’s gotten off to a strong start in his senior year, lifting the Wolverines to a 3-0 start.

He’ll try to keep the hot hand going when Michigan hosts UCF (1-0) on Sunday in Ann Arbor.

Livers is averaging a team-best 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 62.2 percent from the field. He made 8 of 11 field-goal attempts while scoring 21 points in 29 minutes during an 84-65 victory over Ball State on Wednesday.

“He shot the ball with confidence,” coach Juwan Howard said. “(He) took the ball to the basket with a certain level of aggressiveness and toughness, which I’ve seen since the time I started coaching him.”

Michigan got off to an 8-1 start last season but had a .500 record the rest of the way as Livers started to miss games. He was in a slump late in the season, shooting 29.7 percent from the field in the last four games, three of which the Wolverines lost.

The Wolverines’ other starting forward, Franz Wagner, was quiet offensively in the first two games this season. He posted his first double-digit game against Ball State with 14 points.

“It’s a coach’s dream to have big, talented wings that can shoot the basketball,” Howard said. “Both have a high IQ, they have great length and, also, both are athletic.”

Michigan will be playing UCF for the first time in the programs’ history.

“They have good size, they have the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter, and they also have good balance,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “They have a really good inside game, so it’s a really challenging game. A tough team, and that’s what we want to face this preseason.”

The Knights (1-0) defeated Auburn 63-55 on Monday. Their originally scheduled opener against Oklahoma was postponed due to COVID-19 issues.

They showed a balanced offense against the Tigers, as six players scored between eight and 13 points. Their defense was stout, limiting Auburn to 32.3 percent shooting while forcing 22 turnovers.

“I really liked the fact we were a really scrappy bunch,” Dawkins said. “We saw that in practice. They really get after it, they really like competing. I think you saw that all game long.”

–Field Level Media

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