Michigan picked up its first big road win since 2014 on Tuesday, beating NC State 66-59. But it may have lost in the long run, as junior starting guard Derrick Walton was injured.
Walton got hurt on a play in the first half where an NC State player landed on his left ankle. It’s the latest in a string of lower leg injuries to plague the guard. He missed a majority of last season with foot and toe injuries in his right foot.
The good news is that this one is in the other foot, but there still is no clear timetable on how long he’ll be out. It’s also important to note that the team’s other point guard, Spike Albrecht, is still nursing his hip surgeries from this summer despite playing Tuesday night. If Walton’s out for a while, Michigan may not have a fully healthy point guard.
As for the game, Michigan mostly controlled this one from the opening tip. Caris LeVert threw up a near-triple double with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He was generally the most dominant player on the floor throughout the game, getting into the lane at will and making a ton of plays out of the pick-and-roll, both for himself and others. If his play continues to trend in this direction, the Wolverines might be able to withstand Walton’s injury.
The key supporting performance next to LeVert did not come from guys like Zak Irvin or the injured Spike Albrecht or any of the other guys we’ve seen recently play well for Michigan. Instead, it was sophomore wing Duncan Robinson, who knocked down five 3-pointers and scored 17 points in the win. Robinson has been terrific in the early stages of the season, and could really be a difference maker due to his ability to space the floor in John Beilein’s offense.
On the other side, it was another performance where the Wolfpack just really struggled to find offense beyond Cat Barber and Caleb Martin. Those two combined for 35, but the rest of the team just couldn’t create anything for itself. Other starters Maverick Rowan, Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman combined to shoot 1 for 20, and the bench was only able to match Robinson’s 17. For the Mark Gottfried’s group to make some noise this season, it’s going to have to find more offense while Terry Henderson continues to nurture his injury.
It’s a good win for the Wolverines to get on the road, but now all eyes turn to the medical report.