|Matthews-led Michigan looks to hold off Florida|
Charles Matthews didn't resemble himself much while limping through the Big Ten tournament.
But the senior guard appears to be just fine now after playing a starring role in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Matthews is no longer bothered by an injured right ankle and he'll look to help Michigan advance to the Sweet 16 when the second-seeded Wolverines face 10th-seeded Florida (20-15) in Saturday's second-round West Region contest at Des Moines, Iowa.
Matthews had 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and collected 10 rebounds as the Wolverines (29-6) posted a 74-55 victory over Montana on Thursday.
The 6-foot-6 Matthews injured the ankle in a loss to Michigan State on Feb. 24 and then missed the final three games of the regular season.
He returned for the Big Ten tourney but wasn't effective as he averaged five points and two rebounds in the three games. He made just 6 of 21 field-goal attempts.
"Basketball is a funny game," Michigan coach John Beilein said in the postgame press conference. "You're two weeks off. It's really different to step back on and be yourself."
Matthews seemed to be back in his comfort level on Thursday as he posted his sixth 20-point outing and third double-double of the season.
"Dealing with any injury can be tough and understanding it's a process to get back to where you were before it happened," Matthews said during the postgame press conference. "I had a great group of guys around me. Our athletic trainer was tremendous helping me with rehab and the coaching staff did a great job of supporting me as well, and I was able to take my time and get back to where I wanted to be."
Michigan will likely need another solid outing from Matthews when it faces a pesky Florida squad that posted a 70-61 victory over seventh-seeded Nevada on Thursday.
Senior center Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points and senior guard Jalen Hudson added 15 but the Gators won due to a defense that limited the Wolf Pack to 34.5 percent from the field and 5 of 24 from 3-point range.
But it wasn't all easy as Florida let an 18-point, second-half lead dwindle to two before scoring the game's final seven points.
"I felt like we didn't pay attention enough, felt like we got a little bit of a lead, a little too casual, and reminded the team it was far from over," Hayes said during the postgame press conference. "We had to stay locked in, in the moment and we had to stand together and eventually we dug ourselves out and could do enough to finish the game."
Gators coach Mike White pointed to his team's slate as being a prime reason why his squad held off the Wolf Pack's charge.
"Playing in the SEC and then playing the nonconference schedule that we played, it seems like we've had, I'm just guessing off the top of my head, 15 games like that where late in the game, it's a one- or two-possession game within a couple of minutes, whether you're up or down," White said in the postgame press conference. "We had a stretch during the season where we lost those games."
--Field Level Media