Senior guard Charles Matthews recorded 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Michigan to a 74-55 victory over Montana on Thursday in West Region play of the NCAA Tournament at Des Moines, Iowa.
Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis added 14 points, and junior center Jon Teske had 11 points and nine rebounds for the second-seeded Wolverines (29-6). Sophomore guard Jordan Poole scored 10 points, and junior guard Zavier Simpson registered 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Michigan will meet 10th-seeded Florida on Saturday in the second round.
“We will need to play even better than we did today,” Wolverines coach John Beilein told TNT in a postgame interview of his team’s prospects against the Gators.
Junior guard Sayeed Pridgett scored 17 points for the 15th-seeded Grizzlies (26-9). Senior guard Ahmaad Rorie and sophomore guard Timmy Falls added 10 points apiece for Montana, which shot just 33.3 percent from the field and was 6 of 24 from behind the arc.
The Wolverines shot 49 percent from the field, including 5 of 17 from 3-point range.
The game was a rematch of last season’s first-round matchup when the Wolverines beat the Grizzlies 61-47.
Montana scored the first 10 points of last year’s meeting but was never in the contest this time around and trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half.
However, the Grizzlies kept fighting, and they scored the first five points of the second half to move within 34-26.
Michigan answered with 10 consecutive points — five from Matthews — to increase its lead to 18 with 16:11 remaining.
The Wolverines’ advantage reached 20 for the first time when Poole converted a three-point play to make it 57-37 with 8:29 left.
The lead reached 66-39 when sophomore forward Isaiah Livers drained a 3-pointer with 6:01 left, and Michigan cruised to the finish.
Matthews had 11 points and seven rebounds as the Wolverines led 34-21 at the break.
Michigan ran out to a quick 15-4 lead and increased it to 21-6 on Matthews’ basket with 8:26 remaining. A jumper by Matthews two-plus minutes later pushed the margin to 25-8.
Montana missed its first nine 3-point attempts until senior guard Donaven Dorsey buried one with 2:52 remaining in the half. The Grizzlies were 1 of 11 from long distance before intermission.
—Field Level Media