ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Eli Brooks scored 15 points and No. 20 Michigan overcame a sloppy performance to beat Tarleton State 65-54 on Wednesday.
Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan scored 14 points apiece for Michigan (4-2), which committed 21 turnovers. Hunter Dickinson added nine points and 10 rebounds.
“Tarleton is very good at getting into passing lanes, being active with their hands and feet and their energy,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “Some of the passes we were making, I would say in a respectful way, were mindless.”
Montre Gipson led Tarleton State (1-5) with 17 points and Tahj Small added 12.
“I hope they got something out of it, I know we did,” Texans coach Billy Gillispie said. “Our guys are tough. I don't think there's anybody in America that's tougher than us.”
The Wolverines had 11 turnovers in the first 15 minutes but reeled off 10 unanswered points late in the half to gain a 31-22 halftime advantage.
“We've got to slow down and not let the other team press us and rush us,” Diabate said. “We can't give them the chance to put their energy over us.”
Michigan was clinging to a 55-52 lead with under four minutes left, but two free throws by Brooks and dunks by Dickinson and Diabate helped the Wolverines to stave off the Texans. Dickinson set up Diabate's two late dunks.
“(Diabate) kept cutting to the basket and Hunter did an amazing job of catching it in the post and driving and dunking or catching it in the post, they double and he finds the cutter,” Howard said. “It's something special watching a young guy like Moussa, who understands how to play and play with Hunter, who's a willing passer.”
Gillispie was disappointed with the late defensive lapses.
“We came here to win,” he said. “We did a lot of good things but in the most important time, we made three defensive errors and just let them lay it up. You can't do that on an opponent's home court.”
PROVIDING A SPARK
Michigan freshman Frankie Collins settled the team down in the early going. He had six points and four assists off the bench, all in the first half. Collins had a combined three points and three assists in the first three games of his career.
The 6-foot-9 Howard plans to be a big presence on the sidelines for the Ohio State-Michigan football showdown in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The winner will advance to the Big Ten championship game.
“I'm going to be out there loud and I'm going to lose my voice because I'm coming with energy,” he said. “I don't know if there's a 12th man in football but I feel like I'm the 12th man.”
The Texans, who became a Division I program last year, made some history by facing a Big Ten opponent for the first time in any sport. They were surprisingly competitive.
Michigan was seeking a confidence boost after losing two of its previous three games, including an 18-point defeat to Arizona on Sunday. The Wolverines instead showed vulnerability against a pressure defense.
Tarleton State: The Texans face their biggest challenge of the season when they head to Spokane, Washington, to play No. 1 Gonzaga on Monday. They were scheduled to play Gonzaga last December, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues for the Bulldogs.
Michigan: The Wolverines get a weeklong break before taking on North Carolina on Wednesday. Michigan won its last matchup with the Tar Heels, 73-64, in November 2019 at the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas.
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