Duncan Robinson’s shooting performance for Michigan on Tuesday night has N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried rethinking his recruiting strategy.
Robinson, a Division III transfer, made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points to lead the Wolverines to a 66-59 road win over the Wolfpack in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
It was the second time in as many games a transfer from beyond the Division I level sliced up the Wolfpack’s defense. Winthrop’s Jimmy Gavin had 38 points in a losing effort this past Friday.
“I’m going to start recruiting some Division II and III guys, I guess,” Gottfried said. “This guy played really well. He stepped up and made big shots.”
Robinson, a 6-8, 210-pound redshirt sophomore, started his college career at Williams College in Massachusetts and averaged 17.1 points per game for the Ephs.
After N.C. State (4-3) cut what was a 15-point Michigan lead down to 50-46 after a jumper by junior point guard Cat Barber at 7:48, it was Robinson who answered with a 3 and then Zak Irvin delivered the dagger with another 3.
The Wolverines made 50 percent of their shots (24 of 38) and went 7 of 20 from 3-point range. Robinson was 6 of 8 from the floor and 5 of 7 from the 3-point line in 23 minutes.
“He was just sitting there and spotting up like target practice,” said N.C. State’s Caleb Martin, who led the Wolfpack with 19 points.
Michigan’s normal star Caris LeVert nearly had a triple-double to support Robinson. LeVert finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
While Michigan was getting points from Robinson and LeVert, N.C. State couldn’t get anything out of its starting forwards. Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman went a combined 0 of 9 from the floor and had two points between them. BeeJay Anya had nine points off the bench, but Michigan, which had no true post presence, outscored the Wolfpack, 28 to 18 in the paint.
“It’s real simple,” Gottfried said. “They’ve got to give us some offensive production. When we get no scoring from our interior guys, what happens is it puts so much pressure on Cat, Caleb and Maverick (Rowan) to score every point. The game is too hard to do that.”
Barber added 16 points but the freshman Rowan struggled, going 1 of 11 and scoring a season-low five points. Michigan, the second Power 5 team to beat N.C. State this season in three games, was able to keep Barber off the foul line.
Barber had a career-best 37 points against Winthrop the last time out for the Wolfpack. He went to the free-throw line 22 times in that game but only four times on Tuesday .
“I should have got to the line more, but they did a great job containing me and bringing in another (defender) to help,” Barber said.
In the first six games of the season, Barber went to the foul line 75 times. With Michigan’s help defense, and its guards playing a step off, Barber took 12 field goals but didn’t get to the foul line for the first time until there were 36.5 seconds left in the game.
With no help from the bigs, and a 4 of 17 effort as a team from the 3-point line, N.C. State couldn’t rely on its defense, either.
Michigan was able to spread the floor and get LeVert to the basket or exploit N.C. State’s post defenders on the pick-and-roll.
“Every time they drove, we opened up and gave them a complete path to the lane,” Martin said.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio