ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jon Teske entered the game with 11 points in his Michigan career — then nearly equaled that in one night.
Teske had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and the Wolverines used a 20-1 second-half run to put away Southern Mississippi in a 61-47 victory Thursday night. The 7-foot-1 Teske easily surpassed his previous career highs of four points and three rebounds in the type of performance that raises some compelling lineup possibilities for coach John Beilein.
“Every day in practice I’m getting better, and coach sees that, and he knows that I’m capable of doing that,” Teske said.
Teske scored five points last season as a freshman. He had six through the first two games of 2017-18 before Thursday’s breakout performance.
Teske had six points and three rebounds in under four minutes of playing time in the first half. Then he checked in with 13:01 left in the second and Michigan down two. The Wolverines outscored Southern Miss 23-7 before Beilein finally took Teske out again in the final minute.
A backup to star Moe Wagner, Teske made a decent case for more minutes. Beilein said the possibility of playing both big men together depends on how it would affect Michigan’s defense.
“Moe would have to guard the other (team’s) shooting ‘4’ — and I think that he’s closer to that than he’s been the last two years,” Beilein said. “So it could happen. Depends on the opposition.”
Southern Miss (1-1) led 33-32 at halftime and took a 40-36 advantage on a basket by Eddie Davis with 14:30 remaining. Then the Golden Eagles went over eight minutes without scoring. Duncan Robinson gave Michigan a 41-40 lead with a 3-pointer, and Teske scored back-to-back baskets to make it 51-40.
After Tim Rowe broke the Southern Miss drought with a free throw, Michigan ran off five more points to lead 56-41.
“We didn’t come up here to lose,” Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said. “For 30 minutes, we played as good a basketball game as you can. We had a hard time the last nine minutes of scoring. We got a little tired and missed some really good looks.”
Tyree Griffin led the Golden Eagles with 15 points.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 14 points for Michigan (3-0), and Robinson and Wagner added 12 each.
Michigan has trailed in the second half in all three of its games this season, but the Wolverines were able to prevail against North Florida, Central Michigan and Southern Miss.
“None of these three teams we’ve played probably are going to win the national championship, but at the same time, it gives us a great measure for ourselves, to play under some duress and still win,” Beilein said.
OFF THE LINE
Southern Miss attempted 45 free throws in a season-opening win over Southern-New Orleans. The Golden Eagles shot only three against Michigan.
“We drove the ball a lot, but we’ve got to find a way to get to the free-throw line a lot more than we did,” Sadler said.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles fell behind 12-2 early on but were able to make a game of it. They shot 6 of 23 in the second half, which prevented any real chance at an upset.
Michigan: Teske isn’t about to supplant Wagner, but if he can keep contributing to the offense, the Wolverines can certainly find minutes for a player of his size . Michigan was impressive on defense in the second half, holding the Golden Eagles to 14 points.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles host Blue Mountain of Mississippi on Monday night.
Michigan: The schedule becomes tougher now for the Wolverines, who head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. Michigan faces LSU on Monday night.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister