Dickinson-led No. 6 Michigan beats Buffalo 88-76 in the opener

ANN ARBOR – Hunter Dickinson scored 27 points to open # 6 Michigan with an 88-76 win over Buffalo on Wednesday night.

The Wolverines got off to a strong start to the season, leading with up to 21 points in the first half and leading 51:36 at halftime before coming out flat in the second half.

The Bulls were much more aggressive and it paid off that they were able to reduce the gap to five points with five minutes to go against the team of coach Juwan Howards.

“Juwan probably has some gray hair left,” said Dickinson.

The players, meanwhile, have learned a lesson on how to get used to having a big head start.

“Things like this will help us move on and prepare for the adversity that lies ahead,” said Dickinson.

Helping Michigan break out, Caleb Houstan made a 3-pointer to give the Wolverines a 15-point lead, 3:12 back. The highly praised newcomer ended with 11 points and six rebounds.

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“He’s such a great shooter and the way our offense is designed he’s going to have a lot of open shots,” said Dickinson. “He has a really good opportunity to score a lot of goals for us.”

Terrance Williams scored 15 points and Eli Brooks had 11 points and four assists for the Wolverines.

Buffalo’s Jeenathan Williams scored 32 points, which was high in the career.

“He has improved dramatically for us every year,” said coach Jim Whitesell.

Ronaldo Segu had 15 points and Josh Mballa added 13 for the Bulls.

“They really followed us in the first half,” said Whitesell. “We were lucky enough to put 15 back. I was happy with the way we played in the first 12 minutes of the second half.”

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: The Bulls are favorites in the Mid-American Conference with nine seniors on the roster, including preseason All-MAC players Williams and Mballa. They hope to make the NCAA tournament for the first time with Whitesell, who is in his third season, after making four appearances in five years under Nate Oats and Bobby Hurley.

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“I think they’ll be making noise for sure in March,” Dickinson said.

Michigan: The Wolverines are pre-season pick to re-run as Big Ten champions and are expected to battle for the national title. Howard has a talented and comprehensive list led by Dickinson, who chose to stay in school after being named the Conference’s Freshman of the Year.

Whitesell said Michigan was a “final four-caliber team” that gave its team some lessons.

OCCASIONAL KNOBS

Michigan’s senior guard Adrien Nunez, who scored a total of six points last season, had five points left with 8:15 in the first half when the Wolverines were 33-19 ahead.

STRONG STARTERS

The Wolverines won their first 11 games last year and started Howard’s 2019 debut season 7-0.

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BANNERTAG

Before the game, Michigan raised its 2021 Big Ten title banner and presented conference championship rings to players, coaches and staff.

SURVEY IMPACT

Michigan has a chance to move up as two higher ranked teams are set to lose later this week. No. 4 Villanova plays No. 2 UCLA on Friday and No. 5 Texas plays No. 1 Gonzaga on Saturday.

NEXT

Buffalo plays in North Texas on Monday nights.

Michigan meets Prairie View A&M in the opening game Coaches vs. Racism in Washington on Saturday night.

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