The Michigan Wolverines and head coach Juwan Howard scored another signature victory Friday, defeating the No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-64 at Imperial Arena in Nassau, Bahamas, to win the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Michigan improved to 7-0, while Gonzaga suffered its first loss and fell to 8-1.
Four of Michigan's five starters scored in double digits, including Isaiah Livers (21 points), Jon Teske (19 points and 15 rebounds) and Zavier Simpson (13 points and 13 assists). Killian Tillie led the way for Gonzaga with 20 points.
Michigan upset No. 6 North Carolina in the semifinals, while the Zags needed overtime to beat No. 11 Oregon, so the Wolverines had momentum entering Friday's game despite being unranked.
The Wolverines outplayed Gonzaga in nearly every facet Friday, as it shot an impressive 54 percent and held the Bulldogs to 40 percent shooting.
Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports and Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic were two of the many who praised the job Howard has done early in his tenure as Michigan's head coach:
Nick Baumgardner @nickbaumgardner
This used to be the time of year when folks patted John Beilein on the back for reloading a team that lost a ton. But Juwan Howard, his staff and the roster probably need six or seven pats on the back. Michigan looks totally bought in and connected early. Impressive.
Michigan began to take over the game around the midway point of the first half and owned an 11-point lead at the half. Gonzaga whittled the deficit to two early in the second half, but that was as close as the Zags would get.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Michigan's success Friday was the play of Teske. He was a dominant force inside and helped neutralize Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev, who shot just 4-of-16 from the field and finished with nine points.
Jackson Frank of The Athletic noted that Michigan owned the paint and made life difficult for Gonzaga throughout the game:
Teske led the way in that regard, and Tim McCormick of Fox Sports Detroit gave the senior center a major endorsement:
With a dominant center in the 7'1" Teske and a balanced attack that saw six players score at least eight points, Michigan seemingly has the right mix to be a contender for the Big Ten and national titles.
Back-to-back wins over UNC and Gonzaga will undoubtedly result in the Wolverines' being ranked next week, and they may even vault into the Top 10.
Another huge test is on the horizon for Howard and the Wolverines, though, as they face the undefeated No. 2 Louisville Cardinals on the road Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga will be heavily favored to get back on track with a win Wednesday when it hosts Texas Southern before three straight games against ranked opponents Washington, Arizona and North Carolina.