AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- A glorified pickup game, almost.
That's the way senior guard Zack Novak described the atmosphere at The Palace of Auburn Hills in No. 19 Michigan's 90-80 win over Oakland.
Not only was the score unusually high for Michigan, but the scoreboards didn't work. So the announcer had to say the score after every possession. On top of that, the shot clocks and game clocks malfunctioned at times. The Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons, didn't always seem like an NBA arena.
"It was difficult for the kids," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We were in one timeout and Zack knew we were up but he says, 'How much are we up?' And he didn't know if I would say five or nine or 12. So it was distracting, but those are the things you have to deal with."
With all that, the Wolverines had a difficult time monitoring both teams' runs in the game. The good runs were very good; so good that -- even with the stretches when Michigan turned the ball over or missed open shots play after play -- they shot 57 percent.
"[Oakland is] going to force you into playing a high speed and we're comfortable with that as long as we're not careless with the ball," Beilein said. "If we weren't so careless, we probably would've been up eight or nine [at the half]," Beilein said of the point at which the score was tied. "It really woke us up to what it means to play in a game like this where it's up and down, up and down if you don't value your possession."
The fast tempo caused a season-high 17 turnovers for Michigan and worked in the favor of Oakland, which had runs of its own. The Grizzlies scored 17 points off the Wolverines' turnovers and forced Michigan to play more of a transition game than a half-court game.
During the half Novak emphasized to his teammates that they needed to settle down and look for better shots.
"[Assistant coach Jeff] Meyer had said, 'When you see that little run going you don't take shots that you can make, you take shots and run plays that you can't miss on,' " Beilein said.
And with a second-half performance in which the Wolverines scored 58 points while shooting 70 percent, it seemed they couldn't miss. But the scoring came on the shoulders of the runs that showed up in individuals as well.
Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who had three first-half points, exploded for 18 second-half points. Senior guard Stu Douglass, who had two first-half points, had 11 in the second half. And freshman point guard Trey Burke, who had seven points and two assists in the first half, finished with nine assists and 20 points.
"We need to lengthen the good runs by staying poised on offense," Hardaway Jr. said. "We just need to keep playing our game and not let other teams distract us from what we're trying to do out there. I think in the second half we showed that."
Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @chanteljennings.