Michigan raced to a 13-3 lead, led by 26 at the end of the first quarter, 36 at the half and cruised to a 99-61 win over the Perugia All-Stars in it first exhibition game on the Italy trip. Sophomore Zak Irvin led the Wolverines with 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, going 5-for-5 from three-point range in the win.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 13-3 lead and never looked back, extending their lead to 26 points by the end of the first quarter and 36 points at the half.
"Offensively, that first quarter was not what I was expecting," head coach John Beilein told MGoBlue.com. "With us playing so well offensively, that led to us playing so well defensively. You don't know what to expect in games like these. The first quarter was probably a little above what I thought we would do. The last three quarters were a little more predictable for a team on a trip like we are on."
The competition wasn't outstanding - the Perugia Select All-Stars consisted of players in the fourth and fifth divisions of Italian basketball, and there wasn't anyone over 6-5 - but the Wolverines played well and together. There will be plenty to learn from the film before they face the Vicenza All-Stars in Vicenza, Italy at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday.
Irvin, though, couldn't have played much better. He made 10 of 13 shots and was a force on both ends.
"I really shot the ball well today; however, I have to give my teammates credit because they were looking for me and getting me the ball," Irvin said. "The big thing for me was getting to the hole, and I was able to do that. I was able to score inside and outside. It was a great start for us, a great game and hopefully we can keep this going.
"We came out shooting the ball really well. That just speaks volumes for our team. We are all looking for each other and playing unselfish basketball. We are a growing team. There were a lot of things that went well today, but there is plenty we still have to work on. We can do better communicating and on the defensive end. We came out to Italy and had a great game, but we also just have to enjoy and really take in everything on this trip."
Freshman Kam Chatman started and finished with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Ricky Doyle scored 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting, while junior guard Caris LeVert (12 points) and sophomore point guard Derrick Walton, Jr. (10 points, three assists) also played well. Freshman shooting guard Muhammad Ali-Abdur Rahkman scored 11 points in an impressive debut.
There were several Michigan fans in attendance, and they were at their loudest when freshman wing Austin Hatch entered the game. He didn't score, but he didn't have to in order to earn the respect of his teammates.
"He has been through so much and for him to be out here with us, it is phenomenal," Doyle said. "He is part of our family. He is one of our brothers. Seeing him going out there was just as important to all of us as it is to him."
Hatch led his team in 'The Victors' after the win.
"It was unreal," he said. "To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits. I always thought to myself, 'I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that.' Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that."
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