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That close: Kentucky 75 – Michigan 72

Sunday, March 30th, 2014


Jordan Morgan vs Kentucky 3-30-14(MGoBlue.com)

A perfect juxtaposition of basketball styles put on a thrilling performance Sunday evening in Indianapolis with a trip to the Final Four on the line. One, the embodiment of college basketball in its truest form, a well-coached mixture of NBA talent and role players performing together as a team. The other, a high-flying collection of all-stars playing an NBA style, vying to extend their reluctant seven-month pit stop in Lexington a few more days before moving on to the next level and the riches that await them.

If games were won or lost by recruiting rankings alone this one wouldn’t have been close. Yes, Michigan has elevated its recruiting over the past few years, but one of John Beilein’s two five-stars was riding the bench as he has since mid-December after undergoing season-ending back surgery. When John Calipari’s four-star big man suffered an ankle injury in Friday’s Sweet Sixteen win over Louisville, forcing him to miss this game, he got a big lift from an unsung hero who just happens to have been rated even higher. No, this one shouldn’t have been close. But it was.

When Michigan lost last season’s national championship game and two NBA draft picks, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., it was assumed that the team would take a slight step back this season. There was plenty of talent, sure, but the leadership of Hardaway and the game-changing ability of Burke would be tough to replace. Then, preseason All-American Mitch McGary was lost for the year and Michigan opened the season 6-4. But instead of wilting, this resilient group of overachievers tore through the Big Ten, winning the conference by three games, and marched right back to the Elite Eight, into this matchup with what had been considered just two weeks ago a highly-heralded group of underachievers.

Aaron Harrison's three with two seconds remaining ended Michigan's season (IndyStar)

Aaron Harrison’s three with two seconds remaining ended Michigan’s season (IndyStar)

Michigan raced out to an 11-4 lead in the game’s first five minutes, sending a message to the young superstars that, despite the disparity in recruiting rankings and NBA potential, they wouldn’t be taken lightly. Kentucky responded with an 8-3 run to pull within two, showing time and again that their sheer athleticism and skill was superior. Of the Wildcats’ first eight baskets, seven were layups or dunks.

Michigan pulled ahead by six at 25-19, but Kentucky’s five-star guard James Young — who went to high school an hour from Ann Arbor — answered with a three. Michigan scored the next seven to open up a 10-point lead and suddenly the pro-Kentucky crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium — a mere three hour drive from Lexington — was stunned. But Michigan went scoreless for the next two-and-a-half minutes and the Wildcats had closed the gap to two. By halftime, Kentucky had tied the game at 37 and captured all of the momentum.

Five-star Julius Randle opened the second half with a dunk to give Kentucky its first lead of the game, but two-star Caris LeVert answered with a jumper. Kentucky scored the next six and it looked like the big boys were finally starting to take charge. But the unheralded LeVert hit a shot, followed by a three from four-star Derrick Walton Jr. After a Randle layup, LeVert hit a three to tie the game at 47. Michigan wasn’t going away.

Michigan regained the lead when lone five-star Glenn Robinson III threw down a dunk with 12:27 to play. Two-star Jon Hoford followed with a dunk of his own and Michigan was up four. But 11 straight points by Kentucky turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead before Robinson connected on a three to stop the bleeding. Michigan had gone five minutes and 25 seconds without a point.

After a rare defensive stop, Michigan got a three-point play from no-star Jordan Morgan and it was a game again, 62-61 Kentucky with 4:47 remaining. But Kentucky’s five-star guard Aaron Harrison knocked down a three to keep Michigan from pulling even.

Back and forth went the final few minutes, neither team able to stop the other. Morgan dunk on one end, five-star Alex Poythress layup on the other. Robinson dunk on one end, five-star Dakari Johnson layup on the other. Four-star Nik Stauskas free throws on one end, Harrison three on the other. Robinson three-pointer on one end, turnover on the other. Kentucky’s turnover with 1:39 to play was the first stop for either team since five-star Andrew Harrison turned it over with 5:25 to play.

Michigan found itself within two points, with the ball, with 56 seconds remaining and a chance to either tie the game or take the lead. Stauskas drove to his right, into the lane, but his contested layup attempt was no good. LeVert grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it out Stauskas in the corner for three. His shot missed, but LeVert was there again for the rebound. He found Walton for three, but again it was no good. This time, Morgan was there to tip it in and tie the game at 72.

Just 27 seconds remained and Michigan needed a defensive stop to force overtime. Kentucky had had its way with the dribble-drive all game, consistently beating Wolverine defenders off the dribble and either finishing in the paint or giving their taller and more athletic big men a chance to grab the rebound or tip it in. But with the game on the line, Michigan’s defense held firm, forcing Kentucky — which entered the game shooting just 32.6 percent from three-point range — a contested NBA-range three. It was just the shot Michigan wanted Kentucky to take. And Harrison nailed it. Stauskas’ half-court heave at the buzzer fell just short and the book on Michigan’s season was closed.

Kentucky’s season extends for at least six more days, at most eight, before five — maybe more — players will declare for the NBA Draft and Calipari will reload with four of the nation’s top 25 incoming freshmen. Beilein will await the decisions of sophomores Stauskas, Robinson, and McGary. He’ll also lose Morgan, who defined the essence of pure college basketball, committing to a much different-looking Michigan program in 2010 as an unranked big man, and going out with a degree in industrial engineering as one of the most beloved Wolverines on the team.

Two very different programs. Two very different philosophies. The one that was supposed to win on Sunday evening won, but the difference on the court was virtually nonexistent. The one that didn’t will go down as one of the best in Michigan history. Michigan’s mixture of stars and unsung heroes — some of whom virtually nobody wanted — stood toe to toe with the nations best and proved they belonged. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
24 points (6-of-14 FG, 2-of-7 3PT, 10-of-11 FT), 1 rebound, three assists, three turnovers in 39 minutes

**Julius Randle (UK)**
16 points (7-of-16 FG, 2-of-2 FT), 11 rebounds (four offensive), one block, one steal, in 32 minutes

*Marcus Lee (UK)*
10 points (5-of-7FG), eight rebounds (seven offensive), two blocks in 15 minutes

Quick Hitters

 The 59 wins over the last two seasons are the most in program history and the highest two-year total since the 1991-92 and 1992-93 teams won 56.

 This year’s team finishes the season as the seventh-highest scoring in Michigan history with 2,736 points.

 Jordan Morgan finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (63.1) and single-season field goal percentage (70).

 Nik Stasukas passed Louis Bullock (1995-97) for the most made three-pointers in the first two years. He now has 172.

 Stauskas and Caris LeVert were both named to the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team, becoming the 25th and 26th players in program history to earn regional all-tournament teams.

 

 


_______________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-14 2-2 0-0 1 3 4 1 14 1 0 0 1 37
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 1-7 1-5 0-0 1 2 3 2 3 1 0 0 1 33
11 Nik Stauskas* 6-14 2-7 10-11 0 1 1 0 24 3 3 0 0 39
52 Jordan Morgan* 5-6 0-0 1-1 4 0 4 3 11 0 2 0 0 22
23 Caris LeVert* 4-7 1-3 0-2 2 1 3 4 9 5 1 1 2 31
02 Spike Albrecht 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7
15 Jon Horford 3-5 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 2 6 1 0 0 0 14
21 Zak Irvin 2-2 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 2 5 0 0 0 0 13
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
Totals 27-57 7-18 11-14 14 10 24 14 72 11 7 1 4 200
Kentucky 31-58 7-11 6-11 17 18 35 14 75 8 11 6 2 200
Full Stats

Taking charge: Michigan 73 – Tennessee 71

Friday, March 28th, 2014


Win the Game vs Tennessee 3-28-14(MGoBlue.com)

The pregame build up for Michigan’s Sweet Sixteen matchup with 11th-seeded Tennessee centered around the Volunteers’ physical advantage with bruising big men Jarnell Stokes and Jaronne Maymon. Michigan’s overlooked center, senior Jordan Morgan, took notice and outplayed both of them, leading the Wolverines to a 73-71 victory.

“We heard all week about they had mismatches and how we couldn’t guard them inside,” Morgan said. “I guess people forgot we play in the Big Ten and we won the Big Ten outright.”

Morgan’s defense held Stokes to just 11 points and six rebounds — well below both his season and NCAA Tournament averages — while piling up 15 points and seven boards of his own. But his biggest play was also the most controversial. With nine seconds remaining and Michigan clinging to a one point lead, Tennessee inbounded the ball to Stokes along the baseline. As Stokes made his move to the basket, Morgan stood strong, drawing the contact and falling backward. Charge was called and Michigan survived.

Jordan Morgan won the battle of big men with 15 points and seven rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

Jordan Morgan won the battle of big men with 15 points and seven rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

“They set a screen for him to come open, so I knew that the play was going to be for him,” Morgan said of the play. “I just know he likes to play bully ball and was just in a stance ready. I don’t know, I just was there. That’s just something I do. I take charges. That’s just what I do.”

Despite Morgan’s strong play, the game didn’t have to come down to the wire had Michigan not blown a sizable lead. The Wolverines led 60-45 with 10:56 to play and seemed to be cruising into the Elite Eight. But Tennessee started chipping away at the lead. An 8-0 run cut the lead to seven before a Morgan jumper ended a scoring drought of 3:30.

Tennessee cut the lead to six, but Derrick Walton Jr. answered with his second three of the game. Layups by Josh Richardson and Jordan McRae sandwiched a Stauskas layup and then Stauskas nailed a three to bring Michigan’s lead back to double digits at ten. But Tennessee wasn’t done.

Back-to-back Tennessee baskets brought it within six, and after a Morgan dunk, the Volunteers got a three-point play by McRae. After a Michigan turnover Richardson got a layup to pull the Vols within three with just 24 seconds left. Spike Albrecht inbounded the ball to Glenn Robinson III along the sideline, but he had nowhere to go with it and threw it away. Tennessee once again capitalized with a layup by McRae. Suddenly, Michigan’s lead was down to one with 10 seconds left.

Albrecht threw the inbounds pass to Caris LeVert, who stepped on the end line as he tried to turn and run. Now, not only was Michigan up just one, but Tennessee had possession and a chance to win. But that’s when Morgan stepped in to draw the charge. Michigan got the ball to Stauskas, who was sent to the free throw line and made the front end of the one-and-one. Tennessee’s last-ditch heave didn’t fall and Michigan survived.

Michigan shot 55.1 percent for the game, but 61.5 percent in the first half, which helped the Wolverines open up the big lead. Michigan led by 11 at the half. They cooled off in the second, shooting “just” 47.8 percent. After a 7-of-9 three-point performance in the first half, Michigan made 4-of-11 in the second half.

As expected, Michigan lost the rebounding battle, but the 28-26 difference was much closer than the pregame talk predicted. The main area of concern is an uncharacteristic 13 turnovers for a Michigan squad that committed just four against Texas in the Round of 32.

Morgan led Michigan with 15 points and seven rebounds. Stauskas added 14 on 5-of-12 shooting and 3-of-8 three-point shooting. Robinson III continued his solid play in the tournament with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go along with five rebounds. LeVert was the fourth Michigan player in double figures with 10 points, while Walton Jr. was one shy with nine. Zak Irvin went 3-of-3 off the bench from downtown to also contribute nine.

Michigan remains in Indianapolis through the weekend and will face the winner of the Kentucky-Louisville match for a trip to the Final Four. The game will take place at 5:05 p.m. ET and be televised by CBS.

Three Stars

***Jordan Morgan***
15 points (7-of-9 FG, 1-of-1 FT), 7 rebounds (pne offensive), one block, one steal, one turnover in 32 minutes

**Jordan McRae (UT)**
24 points (9-of-18 FG, 0-of-5 3PT, 6-of-11 FT), six rebounds (two offensive), four block, one steal, two assists in 38 minutes

*Glenn Robinson III*
13 points (5-of-8FG, 1-of-1 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), two assists, one steal, two turnovers in 39 minutes

Quick Hitters

 Michigan broke the program record for made three-pointers in a season, surpassing the previous mark of 305, which was set in 2008-09. The Wolverines currently have 312 on the season.

 This Michigan team currently ranks eighth in program history for points scored in a season. The Wolverines moved up from 11th, surpassing the 1996-97, 1997-98, and 1991-92 teams.

 Michigan is now 8-0 this season when Jordan Morgan scores in double figures and 13-2 when Nik Stasukas, Caris LeVert, and Glenn Robinson III all score in double figures.

 Jordan Morgan currently ranks first all-time in single season (68.80 percent) and career (62.71 percent) field goal percentage. He leads Maceo Baston by 0.64 and 0.04 percent, respectively.

 Nik Stauskas surpassed the 600-point mark on the season, the 21st time a Michigan player has accomplished the feat. Stauskas is also now just one three-pointer away from tying Louis Bullock (1995-97) for the most made threes in the first two seasons.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-8 1-1 2-2 2 3 5 0 13 2 2 0 1 39
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 2-2 2-2 3-3 0 6 6 3 9 4 3 0 0 30
11 Nik Stauskas* 5-12 3-8 1-2 0 0 0 1 14 2 1 0 0 37
52 Jordan Morgan* 7-9 0-0 1-1 1 6 7 3 15 0 1 1 1 32
23 Caris LeVert* 4-10 2-5 0-0 0 1 1 1 10 5 5 0 3 33
02 Spike Albrecht 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 10
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 1-2 1 3 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 8
21 Zak Irvin 3-5 3-3 0-0 0 0 0 1 9 0 0 0 0 11
Totals 27-49 11-20 8-10 6 20 26 13 73 14 13 1 5 200
Tennessee 30-57 3-11 8-14 11 17 28 13 71 11 7 8 7 200
Full Stats

Hooked ‘em: Michigan 79 – Texas 65

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014


Morgan dunk vs Texas 3-22-14(Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

On Thursday night Michigan looked sloppy in defeating Wofford, but was able to advance to the Round of 32. On Saturday night, the Wolverines made sure to avoid sloppy play, turning the ball over just twice and committing just three fouls in the first half while racing out to a commanding lead. Despite a comeback attempt by Texas in the second half, Michigan’s lead was to much and the Wolverines advanced back to the Sweet Sixteen with a 79-65 win.

Like Thursday, Nik Stauskas got the scoring started with a three-pointer, but this time Texas scored the next six. But another Stauskas three ignited a 10-0 Michigan run until Cameron Ridley scored on a tip-in. Glenn Robinson III answered with a three, followed by yet another by Stauskas to open up a double-digit lead at 21-10 midway through the half.

But Michigan wasn’t done. Over the next three minutes the Wolverines outscored Texas 9-2 to open up a 30-12 lead. Texas outscored Michigan by five the rest of the half to head into the locker room down 13 at 43-30.

Glenn Robinson III hit big shots at key times to preserve the win (Morry Gash, AP)

Glenn Robinson III hit big shots at key times to preserve the win (Morry Gash, AP)

Derrick Walton Jr. started the second half with two threes sandwiched around a Jordan Morgan dunk, and when Stauskas converted a pair of free throws at the 16:02 mark Michigan was once again back up by 18. But Texas’ zone defense finally started to pay off as Michigan went cold, failing to score for the next four minutes and 22 seconds. Stauskas ended the drought and Michigan’s lead matched its halftime lead.

Texas answered with five straight to pull within eight with 9:56 to play, but Robinson III made a pair of free throws to move it back to 10. Two straight Longhorn baskets brought it down to six and suddenly Michigan’s once-comfortable lead was down to two possessions.

Robinson answered yet again with a jumper and then a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions. Texas made a pair of free throws to pull within nine, but Spike Albrecht nailed a three. Texas once again cut it to eight, but this time it was Caris LeVert with a big three to squelch any hopes of a Texas run and the Longhorns would never get it to single digits the rest of the way.

Michigan scored eight straight to pull ahead 76-60 and that was all she wrote.

For the game, Michigan shot 44.4 percent (53.6 percent in the first half) and 50 percent from three-point range. The Wolverines set a program NCAA Tournament record with 14 made threes. Texas shot 37.1 percent from the field and 4-of-11 from downtown. Michigan was out-rebounded 41-30, but turned the ball over just four times and converted nine Texas turnovers into 15 points.

Michigan got balanced scoring from its starters, led by Stauskas’ 17 on 4-of-12 shooting (4-of-9 three-point). He also added a career-high eight assists and no turnovers. Jordan Morgan recorded his second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Robinson III and LeVert scored 14 apiece. Walton Jr. added eight.

Michigan advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row and will play the winner of Sunday’s matchup between 11-seed Tennessee and 14-seed Mercer. The game will take place on Friday in Indianapolis.

Three Stars

***Jordan Morgan***
15 points (4-of-7 FG, 7-of-8 FT), 10 rebounds (five offensive), two assists, two steals, one turnover in 35 minutes

**Glenn Robinson III**
14 points (5-of-10 FG, 2-of-3 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), one block, two steals, one turnover in 36 minutes

*Nik Stauskas*
17 points (4-of-12 FG, 4-of-9 3PT, 5-of-6 FT), two rebounds, eight assists, one block in 38 minutes

Quick Hitters

 The win was number 700 for John Beilein, making him the sixth active head coach to reach the milestone.

 Michigan is 12-2 this season when Stauskas, Robinson III, and LeVert all score in double figures.

 Jordan Morgan recorded his third double-double of the season and seventh of his career. He is the first player to record back-to-back double-doubles since Mitch McGary against VCU and Kansas in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

 Morgan passed Chris Webber for 15th place on Michigan’s career rebounding list.

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-10 2-3 2-2 2 3 5 2 14 0 1 1 2 36
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-7 2-4 0-0 1 0 1 2 8 2 0 0 0 29
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-12 4-9 5-6 0 2 2 1 17 8 0 1 0 38
52 Jordan Morgan* 4-7 0-0 7-8 5 5 10 3 15 2 1 0 1 35
23 Caris LeVert* 5-12 3-6 1-3 1 3 4 2 14 3 0 0 0 37
02 Spike Albrecht 1-2 1-2 2-2 1 2 3 0 5 1 0 0 1 11
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 5
21 Zak Irvin 2-4 2-4 0-0 0 0 0 0 6 0 1 0 0 9
Totals 24-54 14-28 17-21 11 19 30 12 79 16 4 2 5 200
Texas 23-62 4-11 15-16 21 20 41 16 65 14 9 3 3 200
Full Stats

Moving on: Michigan 57 – Wofford 40

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


LeVert three vs Wofford 3-20-14(MGoBlue.com)

After reaching the national title game a year ago, Michigan opened its 2014 NCAA Tournament run with a sluggish 57-40 win over Wofford on Thursday night. It was nowhere close to pretty, and felt much closer than the final score indicated, but the goal is always to move on and Michigan did just that.

It took nearly two and a half minutes for Michigan to get on the board, giving up the first four points to Wofford, but a Jordan Morgan dunk ignited a 9-0 run. Glenn Robinson III hit a jumper, followed by a Derrick Walton Jr. three-pointer and a Caris LeVert two before Wofford scored again. Nik Stauskas got into the action with a three to put Michigan ahead 12-6.

Jordan Morgan recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

Jordan Morgan recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

An 8-2 run put Michigan ahead by double digits by the under-eight media time out. By the end of the half, Michigan had widened its lead to 14 at 34-20 and seemed to be in control of the game.

The second half started well as Michigan added four points to its lead on a Stauskas three and a Robinson III foul shot. However, the Wolverines were held without a point for the next four minutes and 14 seconds and Wofford cut the 18-point lead to eight. Jon Horford ended the drought with a dunk, but Wofford answered with five straight points to pull within seven, bringing the upset-minded Bradley Center crowd to life.

Morgan responded with a three-point play, and after a Wofford basket, Michigan slammed the door home. Clinging to a 10-point lead that seemed like it could erode at any minute, Michigan got a jumper from Robinson III and a three from LeVert, and suddenly the Wolverines were up by 15 with four minutes left. From there, it was just a matter of running out the clock and Michigan did just that.

Stauskas led Michigan with 15 points on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting. The Big Ten Player of the Year made 3-of-6 three-point attempts, one of which put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 48th player in program history to reach the milestone. Robinson III added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Morgan recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

As a team, Michigan shot a blistering 63.6 percent in the first half, but just 33.3 percent in the second to finish 47.8 percent. Wofford shot just 34 points and made just 1-of-19 three-point attempts. The Wolverines out-rebounded the Terriers 31-26.

Michigan moves on to the Third Round on Saturday to face the winner of seven-seed Texas and 10-seed Arizona State.

Three Stars

***Jordan Morgan***
10 points (4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 FT), 10 rebounds (two offensive), two assists, one block, one steal in 29 minutes

**Nik Stauskas**
15 points (5-of-9 FG, 3-of-6 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, three turnovers in 35 minutes

*Glenn Robinson III*
14 points (6-of-14 FG, 1-of-4 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), seven rebounds (three offensive), one assist, one steal, one turnover in 35 minutes

Quick Hitters

 Tonight’s win makes it impossible for Michigan to suffer back-to-back losses this season, marking the first time since 1993 that the Wolverines have achieved the feat.

 John Beilein picked up win number 699 for his career. On Saturday, he could become the sixth active head coach to reach 700.

 Nik Stauskas passed Robbie Reed (1988-89) for eighth place on Michigan’s career three-point list. He needs nine more this season to pass Louis Bullock (1995-99) for the most by a player in his first two seasons.

 

 

___________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-14 1-4 1-2 3 4 7 0 14 1 1 0 1 35
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 2-3 2-2 0-0 0 3 3 0 6 5 2 0 2 31
11 Nik Stauskas* 5-9 3-6 2-2 0 2 2 3 15 1 3 0 1 35
52 Jordan Morgan* 4-6 0-0 2-3 2 8 10 1 10 2 3 1 1 29
23 Caris LeVert* 2-6 1-1 1-2 1 4 5 2 6 4 1 0 1 28
02 Spike Albrecht 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 8
05 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
15 Jon Horford 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 1 4 1 1 0 2 11
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
21 Zak Irvin 1-5 0-4 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 20
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 22-46 7-17 6-9 6 25 31 8 57 15 11 1 8 200
Wofford 18-53 1-19 3-4 8 18 26 14 40 10 9 0 3 200
Full Stats

Third time’s the harm: Michigan State 69 – Michigan 55

Sunday, March 16th, 2014


MSU BTT win 3-16-14(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

With the Big Ten regular season title under its belt and a possible one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan faced off with Michigan State for the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday afternoon. But instead of running the table and pulling off a three-game sweep of the Spartans, Michigan was outplayed and handed a 69-55 defeat.

Nik Stauskas started the game just as he left off the previous two meetings. His first shot of the game was good for three, and after a pair of Adreian Payne free throws, Derrick Walton Jr added a three to give Michigan an early 6-2 lead. The Wolverines widened it to 9-4 before Michigan State scored 12 straight to take a 16-9 lead.

After a Michigan time out, Stauskas hit another three to stop the run, but Michigan State kept the foot on the pedal. The Spartans’ game plan was clear from the start: get the ball inside and take it to Michigan’s big men. It worked as Jordan Morgan and Jon Hoford both picked up several fouls in the first few minutes, forcing John Beilein to turn to Max Bielfeldt for major minutes.

Keith Appling made a layup to put Michigan State ahead 23-14 and Beilein received a technical foul — his second in the last four games. Travis Trice made both free throws, but Stauskas responded with a four-point play to negate the whole sequence. Michigan State took a 38-29 lead into the locker room.

The second half started out as badly as possible for Michigan as Michigan State scored eight straight and Michigan missed its first six shots. Suddenly, a nine-point halftime deficit was 17 just three minutes into the half. Morgan ended the Spartan run, but Dawson answered with a jumper of his own. Michigan was never able to get closer than ten the rest of the way and Michigan State captured its fourth ever Big Ten Tournament crown.

For the game, Michigan shot just 31.5 percent and 26.1 percent from three-point range. Michigan State, meanwhile, shot 50 percent from the field despite making just 2-of-17 from downtown. Michigan had no answer for the Spartans’ inside game without Morgan and Horford for most of the game.

Stauskas led Michigan with 17 points on just 4-of-14 shooting. He hit 3-of-5 three-pointers, but often struggled to find an open shot, especially in the second half. Walton was the only other Michigan player in double figures with 11 points, while Caris LeVert scored just seven on 2-of-10 shooting and Glenn Robinson III just six on 2-of-8 shooting.

Three Stars

***Adreian Payne***
18 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3PT, 5-of-5 FT), nine rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one block, two turnovers in 29 minutes

**Branden Dawson**
15 points (7-of-8 FG, 1-of-1 FT), six rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one block, in 24 minutes

*Gary Harris*
15 points (7-of-13 FG, 1-of-5 3PT), two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one turnover in 30 minutes

Quick Hitters:


___________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 2-8 0-3 2-2 1 2 3 2 6 0 0 0 1 31
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-6 1-4 4-5 1 3 4 3 11 1 0 1 0 30
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-14 3-5 6-6 1 1 2 1 17 1 3 0 0 39
52 Jordan Morgan* 4-6 0-0 0-0 4 2 6 4 8 0 2 0 0 20
23 Caris LeVert* 2-10 0-4 2-3 0 1 1 0 7 4 3 0 1 34
02 Spike Albrecht 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 11
05 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
15 Jon Horford 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 4 0 0 1 1 0 5
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
21 Zak Irvin 2-5 2-5 0-0 0 1 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 15
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-2 0-2 0-0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 13
Totals 17-54 6-23 15-16 13 15 28 15 55 7 9 3 3 200
Michigan State 27-54 2-17 13-15 14 24 38 19 69 14 10 6 7 200
Full Stats

Buckeyes sent home: Michigan 72 – Ohio State 69

Saturday, March 15th, 2014


Michigan bench vs OSU 3-15-14(MGoBlue.com)

Six times in the 16-year history of the Big Ten Tournament have Michigan and Ohio State met. All six times the Buckeyes sent the Wolverines home early. That changed on Saturday afternoon when Michigan topped Ohio State 72-69 to advance to Sunday’s championship game for the first time since 1998.

Michigan started the game hitting everything in sight. Nik Stauskas got the scoring started with a three and after Aaron Craft hit a two-point jumper, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert added threes. Robinson then stole the ball for a breakaway layup and Jordan Morgan scored back to back baskets to give Michigan a quick 15-2 lead.

Ohio State scored the next five before Stauskas hit his second three of the game. At the eight-minute mark, Michigan led 30-16 and looked as if it would cruise into the half. But Ohio State had other thoughts juts as it did when it came back from an 18-point second-half deficit on Friday night. The Buckeyes used a 21-11 run to close the half, heading into the locker room down just four points.

Stauskas started off the second half just as he did the first with a three, and after a LaQuinton Ross jumper, Derrick Walton Jr. hit a three and Stauskas added another to put Michigan back ahead by double digits. But once again Ohio State fought back. An alley-oop from Shannon Scott to Sam Thompson gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game at 61-60 with 7:58 to play.

Caris LeVert made the play of the game by pulling down an offensive rebound in the closing seconds (MGoBlue.com)

Caris LeVert made the play of the game by pulling down an offensive rebound in the closing seconds (MGoBlue.com)

From there, the teams played evenly the rest of the way, neither able to pull away by more than three. Jordan Morgan hit one of two free throws and LeVert followed with a three, but Scott answered with a three of his own to tie the game at 64. LeVert made one of two free throws and OSU got back to back layups by Ross and Thompson to grab a 68-65 lead.

On Michigan’s next trip down the court, Stauskas hit a pull-up jumper to bring Michigan within one with 3:45 to play. After an Ohio State missed shot, Robinson was fouled and made both to reclaim the lead. On the other end, Morgan fouled Aaron Craft, but the Buckeye senior uncharacteristically missed both.

On the ensuing possession, Stauskas got the ball on the left baseline with his back to the basket. Craft went for the steal and Stasukas was able to get around him, drive baseline and lay the ball in to put Michigan ahead 71-68 with 2:08 left.

After missed shots on both ends, Morgan picked up his fifth foul of the game. Ross was able to make one of two and Michigan took possession with 44 seconds remaining, up by two. Stauskas ran the clock down as far as possible and heaved up a three, but it clanged off the rim. However, LeVert soared through the lane and grabbed the rebound, kicking it out to Spike Albrecht, who was fouled with six seconds left.

Albrecht made the first to give Michigan a three-point lead. He missed the second and Craft grabbed the rebound and raced down the court desperately needing a three to send the game into overtime. As he pulled up from the top of the key, the ball slipped out of his hands and he was unable to get a shot off as time expired.

The win put Michigan in the championship game for the first time since it won the inaugural Big Ten Tournament in 1998. It also ended Ohio State’s streak of five straight championship game appearances.

Stauskas paced Michigan with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-8 from three-point range. LeVert added 17 points and eight rebounds, while Robinson III contributed 11 points. Walton Jr and Morgan each scored eight points and pulled down five boards. Zak Irvin hit two big threes in the first half to add six points.

As a team, Michigan shot 53.2 percent overall and made 9-of-22 three-pointers, but hit just 10-of-19 from the free throw line. Ohio State also shot well, 48.2 percent overall and 44.8 percent from downtown. The Buckeyes out-rebounded Michigan 31 to 26.

Michigan faces its other big rival, Michigan State, on Sunday afternoon in the championship game. The Wolverines topped the Spartans in both of the regular season meetings, but Michigan State has all of its starters back from injury at this point and looked good in beating Wisconsin in Saturday’s other semifinal. Win, and Michigan should gain a one-seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament. Lose a close game, and a one-seed is still a possibility.

Three Stars

***Caris LeVert***
17 points (6-of-9 FG, 2-of-4 3PT, 3-of-5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), two assists, four turnovers in 37 minutes

**Nik Stauskas**
18 points (6-of-12 FG, 4-of-8 3PT, 2-of-3 FT), one rebound, one assist, one steal, two turnovers in 34 minutes

*Shannon Scott*
18 points (7-of-10 FG, 4-of-6 3PT, 0-of-1 FT), five rebounds, six assists, three steals, two turnovers in 32 minutes

Quick Hitters:


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Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 4-8 1-2 2-2 1 1 2 0 11 1 1 2 3 36
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-6 2-3 0-0 0 5 5 1 8 4 3 0 2 29
11 Nik Stauskas* 6-12 4-8 2-3 0 1 1 0 18 1 2 0 1 34
52 Jordan Morgan* 3-4 0-0 2-7 1 4 5 5 8 3 0 0 0 30
23 Caris LeVert* 6-9 2-4 3-5 1 7 8 1 17 2 4 0 0 37
02 Spike Albrecht 1-4 1-3 1-2 0 0 0 2 4 1 1 0 1 11
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 2 1 1 0 10
21 Zak Irvin 2-3 2-3 0-0 0 1 1 0 6 1 0 0 0 13
Totals 25-47 12-23 10-19 5 21 26 11 72 15 12 3 7 200
Ohio State 27-56 7-19 8-12 9 22 31 18 69 17 1 2 10 200
Full Stats

Survive and advance: Michigan 64 – Illinois 63

Saturday, March 15th, 2014


Stauskas to Morgan vs Illinois 3-14-14(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

For a team like Michigan, which won the regular season Big Ten title outright by three games over Wisconsin and Michigan State, the conference tournament is somewhat of an unnecessary exercise before the Big Dance. There’s not much left to prove except perhaps bettering their seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament. There’s more to lose, from injury to loss of confidence to getting out of sync. But that doesn’t mean John Beilein’s squad wouldn’t try to win and that was evident on Friday afternoon when the Wolverines hung on to beat Illinois 64-63.

Illinois hung around for most of the first half, but in the final five minutes it seemed as if Michigan was about to flex its muscle and pull away. A Glenn Robinson III layup at the 4:48 mark put Michigan ahead 30-23 and prompted John Groce to call a timeout. But over the next two minutes, Illinois outscored Michigan 7-0 to tie the game before Nik Stauskas hit a three to end Michigan’s drought. Michigan took a 38-33 lead into the locker room.

The second half started out all Michigan as the Wolverines scored nine of the first 11 points to take a 47-36 lead. Michigan maintained a double digit lead through the under-12 timeout, but Illinois, which was fighting for its NCAA Tournament life as a bubble team, wasn’t done yet. Seven straight points pulled the Illini within four.

Jordan Morgan atoned for a rough game with the game-winning basket (MGoBlue.com)

Jordan Morgan atoned for a rough game with the game-winning basket (MGoBlue.com)

After a Michigan time out and a missed Stauskas three, Tracy Abrams hit from downtown to bring Illinois within one. Robinson III answered, but it would be the last point Michigan would score for the next 4:21 of game time.

Illinois took its first lead of the second half at the 4:57 mark on a Rayvonte Rice layup and after the under-four time out, Kendrick Nunn scored to put the Illini up by three. But Michigan’s freshman, Derrick Walton Jr., answered with a three to tie the game. Rice followed with another layup to put Illinois ahead 63-61 and Beilein called time out.

On Michigan’s ensuing possession, Caris LeVert, Stauskas, and Walton all missed three-point attempts after Walton and Robinson III pulled down offensive boards. Illinois was unable to take advantage, however, missing a shot, and fouling Stauskas. The Canadian sophomore made one of two to bring Michigan within one with 55 seconds remaining.

Illinois turned the ball over on a shot clock violation to give Michigan the ball back with 11 seconds left, down by one. Stauskas came off a screen near the top of the key and pulled up to shoot. Instead, he hit a rolling Jordan Morgan in the paint and the lone senior who was honored last Saturday, and who had struggled with foul trouble for much of the game, laid the ball up on the rim and it rolled in.

Groce called time out to set up a play and Abrams drove the lane, pulled up and got off a great look from eight feet at the buzzer. But it came up short and Michigan got the win.

The loss likely bursts Illinois’ (19-14) razor-thin bubble hopes, sending them to the NIT. Michigan moves on to face fifth-seed Ohio State, which beat Nebraska 71-67 in the following game. The two faced off just once during the regular season with Michigan getting the better of the Buckeyes in Columbus on Feb. 11, 70-60.

Stauskas led all scorers with 19 points on just 4-of-12 shooting. He made just 2-of-10 three-pointers, but was able to get the the free throw line often and connect on 9-of-10. Robinson III scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while LeVert added 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

Michigan made just 10-of-30 three-pointers as a team, struggling to get much offense going against the Illinois zone defense — a much different outcome than when the two teams met a little over a week ago in Champagne.

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
19 points (4-of-12 FG, 2-of-10 3PT, 9-of-10 FT), three assists, two rebounds, one block, two turnovers in 38 minutes

**Glenn Robinson III**
15 points (5-of-11 FG, 2-of-5 3PT, 3-of-4 FT), seven rebounds (two offensive), one assist in 37 minutes

*Caris LeVert*
13 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-7 3PT, 0-of-1 FT), five rebounds (one offensive), four assists, one steal, two turnovers in 37 minutes

Quick Hitters:

 

 

 


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Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-11 2-5 3-4 2 5 7 0 15 1 0 0 0 37
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 2-5 1-3 0-0 1 2 3 3 5 3 1 0 1 27
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-12 2-10 9-10 0 2 2 2 19 3 2 1 0 38
52 Jordan Morgan* 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 5 6 4 4 0 0 1 1 23
23 Caris LeVert* 5-10 3-7 0-1 1 4 5 0 13 4 2 0 1 37
02 Spike Albrecht 2-3 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 2 5 0 2 0 0 13
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 3 0 0 1 0 1 15
21 Zak Irvin 1-3 1-3 0-0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 8
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 21-47 10-30 12-15 6 20 26 15 64 11 8 2 4 200
Illinois 24-53 5-17 10-12 10 23 33 14 63 10 9 2 4 200
Full Stats

A fitting end: Michigan 84 – Indiana 80

Sunday, March 9th, 2014


Jordan Morgan - The Victors(MGoBlue.com)

Last night was, without a doubt, Jordan Morgan’s to savor. The lone senior on one of the youngest, hottest teams in the country, was playing his final game in the Crisler Center wearing ‘MICHIGAN’ across his chest.

In his five years in Ann Arbor, Morgan has been a part of a lot of successful teams, but he’s never been a player that turns many heads on the floor. More people have used words like “leader” or “glue guy” to describe the engineer from Detroit than “star”, and many point to his off-the-court accolades before talking about how productive he was on it.

But for one last time, Morgan did his best to make sure that Michigan fans will remember him for what he did while wearing that jersey.

While the Indiana Hoosiers started off hot in the hopes of ruining Morgan’s Senior Night and being the only Big Ten team to not fall to Michigan this season, it was number 52 that kept the Maize and Blue in it. Morgan, who has attempted fewer shots per game than the prior season in each of his four years, made Michigan’s first three buckets of the game.

Indiana would make their first nine attempts and jump out to 10-point lead at one point in the first half, but Morgan simply would not let his team throw in the towel. Sure, the Wolverines had already secured an outright Big Ten title with a win earlier in the week at Illinois, but this game was more than just a win or loss. It was Morgan’s lasting legacy, the final page in his epic novel.

Morgan closed out his career in Crisler in style with 15 points and 10 rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

Morgan closed out his career in Crisler in style with 15 points and 10 rebounds (MGoBlue.com)

So Michigan fought back, rallying behind their captain to cut the lead to six at the half and then quickly charging out to a lead in the second half with the help of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, who combined to score 17 of Michigan’s 19 points in the first 5:20 after halftime as the Wolverines jumped ahead 55-50.

After falling behind by 11, Indiana would battle their way back to tie the game with 4:55 to go, but as opposed to last season’s finale when Morgan’s last-second tip rolled off the rim, fate seemed to be on the side of the home team.

Once the game was knotted up at 75 with 1:25 left following the Hoosiers’ 13-2 run, Robinson III caught a Stauskas pass and found himself wide open in the right corner. The sophomore, shooting just a touch better than 27 percent on the year, calmly rose and shot the ball without hesitation. This wasn’t the guy John Beilein would have drawn up to take that shot; after all, Robinson had missed nine of his last 11 threes.

But this one swished through to give Michigan a three-point lead they would not relinquish. A little over a minute later and the Wolverines’ 84-80 win was final, complete with maize and blue confetti and streamers falling from the heavens.

Morgan, who shed a few tears beforehand as he was honored for his contributions to the Michigan program in his seemingly endless five years, would finish his final game a winner and a star with 15 points on just eight shots, 10 rebounds (five of them offensive), two steals, and a block in 29 minutes.

When the Wolverines cut down the nets after the game to celebrate their first Big Ten outright championship in 28 seasons, Morgan was the first to climb the ladder, take a clip, and save one small physical treasure with which to remember his years in Ann Arbor.

What a program outsider may not have realized in watching last night’s game, however, was that Morgan will almost certainly not be the only one gone next year.

Stauskas, the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year honors, is widely projected to be a first round pick in the NBA Draft later this spring after his breakout season and will likely follow his dreams and make the jump. If that is the case, his last game — 21 points, two rebounds, two assists, and a block — will also be one to cherish despite it seeming so routine at the moment.

Robinson III, who would have been a first-rounder if he had left after last year’s run to the National Championship game, is also thought to have one eye on his future in the NBA, and his 20 points, two rebounds, two assists, steal, and clutch three will not soon be forgotten.

After the game, however, there was no mention of those potential early departures, because, of course, there are more games — and very important ones at that — to play.

Morgan, who will play in his fourth NCAA Tournament later this month, knows this better than anyone else.

“We got more ahead of us, more goals to accomplish, and this is just like the beginning,” he said after the game. “I love playing with these guys, (they are) some of the best teammates, and it’s been an amazing year…so far, so far.”

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
21 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3PT, 8-of-9 FT), two assists, two rebounds, one block, one turnover in 35 minutes

**Jordan Morgan**
15 points (7-of-8 FG, 1-of-2 FT), 10 rebounds (five offensive), two steals, one block, two turnovers in 29 minutes

*Glenn Robinson III*
20 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-3PT, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds (one offensive), two assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

Honorable Mention:
Will Sheehey – 17 points (7-of-12 FG, 2-of-5 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), three rebounds (one offensive), two assists, four turnovers in 34 minutes

Quick Hitters:

 With the win, Michigan has beaten every Big Ten team at least one time for the first time since 1992. At 15-3, the Wolverines also finish Big Ten play with their most conference wins since 1992.

 All of the talk before, during, and after the game has focused on the definite departure of Jordan Morgan and the likely departures of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, and rightfully so. But there could be even more adversity than that. Mitch McGary, who has not played since December, will certainly have a big decision to make on whether he returns to school or jumps to the NBA after turning it down as a potential lottery pick last year. At 21 years of age, McGary is old for his class and may be seen as having less “potential” by the NBA if he does return to school, but there is also uncertainty on where, or if, he would be selected because of his injury.

Head coach John Beilein has stated multiple times that he will end his career in Ann Arbor, but two of his assistants, Lavall Jordan and Bacari Alexander, are young up-and-comers and will certainly be getting some calls this upcoming offseason from schools looking for new coaches. Jordan has been masterful in developing guards like Darius Morris, Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas and just missed out on being hired as the head man at Butler, his alma mater, last offseason.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-13 1-3 7-8 1 1 2 0 20 2 1 0 1 37
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 1-4 0-2 2-2 0 0 0 3 4 4 0 0 1 25
11 Nik Stauskas* 6-13 1-4 8-9 0 2 2 1 21 2 1 1 0 35
52 Jordan Morgan* 7-8 0-0 1-2 5 5 10 3 15 0 2 1 2 29
23 Caris LeVert* 5-11 1-2 2-2 1 3 4 3 13 2 0 0 2 38
02 Spike Albrecht 0-2 0-1 4-4 0 0 0 3 4 3 0 0 0 15
15 Jon Horford 1-2 0-0 2-2 3 3 6 2 4 0 0 0 0 11
21 Zak Irvin 1-3 1-3 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 1 10
Totals 27-56 4-15 26-29 11 14 25 16 84 13 6 3 7 200
Indiana 29-49 7-18 15-17 6 20 26 23 80 17 15 3 3 200
Full Stats

Orange crushed: Michigan 84 – Illinois 53

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014


Big Ten champions post-Illinois

The Michigan basketball team entered last night’s matchup at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill. with a monumental opportunity. Win the game, and the Big Ten championship was theirs and theirs alone for the first time since any player on this team was born — the first time since 1986, to be exact.

Win the game, and one of the biggest goals this team has had all season is reached.

Win the game, and the target on their back grows even bigger.

Illinois came into the game with reason to fight just as hard, however. After a brutal stretch of eight straight losses in January and February and 10 losses in 11 games, the Fighting Illini had finally started to right the ship with three straight wins – all over teams with a shot at dancing later this month and all by holding their opponents to fewer than 50 points.

A win over Michigan, and Illinois would have seven conference wins, 18 overall wins, and perhaps a shot at creeping their way back onto the tournament bubble.

That shot left the building about nine minutes after tip, just as Zak Irvin was drilling Michigan’s fifth three of the night to put the Wolverines up by double digits. Illinois would cut the lead to fewer than 10 points only twice the rest of the night, and not once after Spike Albrecht rained down another three, Michigan’s seventh of the night, at the 8:36 mark of the first half.

Michigan’s lead ballooned to 19 points one minute later on a Michael Jordanesque breakaway, double-clutch dunk by Glenn Robinson III. And with a buzzer-beating, 32-foot three from Nik Stauskas – his fourth of the half and the team’s 11th – the Maize and Blue held a 52-30 lead leaving Illinois wishing there was a mercy rule to be found somewhere in the rule books.

Glenn Robinson III and the rest of the Wolverines silenced any remaining critics on Tuesday night (Bradley Leeb, USA Today Sports)

Glenn Robinson III and the rest of the Wolverines silenced any remaining critics on Tuesday night (Bradley Leeb, USA Today Sports)

When more fireworks came to an end in the second half, the scoreboard, incredibly still functioning, read 84-53 in favor of the visitors — the Victors — and the outright 2013-14 Big Ten Champions.

The shooting discrepancy in this blowout was something for the ages. While Michigan merely tied a school record with 16 threes on the night – their last made with 2:23 to play and the walk-ons at the scorers’ table – they did manage to hand Illinois their largest ever loss at Assembly Hall and outshoot the Illini by 58.5 percent from downtown.

Stauskas, perhaps preparing for the tournaments to come while reminiscing about Michigan’s lopsided win over Florida in last year’s tournament to make the Final Four, made a career-high seven three-pointers on just nine attempts and led all scorers with 24 points on the night. Three other Wolverines, Irvin, Albrecht, and Caris LeVert, hit at least two triples apiece and two more, Robinson III and Derrick Walton, Jr., added to the fun with one each.

After such an incredibly noncompetitive game that was so important to both teams, there’s not much to say. Michigan was far and away the better team last night and seems to be separating itself from the rest of the pack. A one-seed is in the bag for the Big Ten Tournament starting next Thursday (with Michigan tipping off on Friday) and a two-seed in the Big Dance is a very real possibility with Syracuse and Creighton falling again last night.

If Michigan continues to shoot as well as they did in their Big Ten-clincher, the Wolverines simply cannot be beaten by anyone in March. Of course that’s a big if, but I sure won’t be the one to doubt this team’s potential.

The narrative has been beaten to death, set on fire, and tossed into the dumpster, but I think it bears repeating one last time (okay, maybe it will come out again at the end of the year too.). Michigan, a team that lost the National Player of the Year and another first-round guard – both of whom left before their eligibility was up – from last year, and without an injured preseason All-American center, has wrapped up an outright Big Ten championship with relative ease. Oh, and with one of the youngest rosters in the country — the 17th youngest to be exact.

This season, this group of players, has been remarkable to watch, but remarkable is a word that’s also been worn out by these Wolverines’ accomplishments. I just can’t find the words in my lexicon to put it any other way.

Michigan, once left for dead by the national media – not even given a chance at making the NCAA tournament – is Big Ten champs.

The transformation this team has made from early November to today is scary, and the successes have been nearly uncountable. But you know what’s even scarier for the rest of college basketball? Perhaps the best is yet to come.

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
24 points (8-of-11 FG, 7-of-9 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), two assists, two rebounds, zero turnovers in 31 minutes

**Caris LeVert**
15 points (5-of-9 FG, 2-of-3 3PT, 3-of-6 FT), four rebounds, one assist, one steal, two turnovers in 26 minutes

*Glenn Robinson III*
13 points (5-of-9 FG, 1-of-3 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), five rebounds (one offensive), one assist, two steals, two turnovers in 34 minutes

Quick Hitters


 Jordan Morgan was taken out of the game at the 7:25 mark of the second half after suffering an apparent tailbone bruise while attempting to take a charge and did not return. The injury did not appear to be too serious, as the fifth-year senior remained on the bench and on a stationary bike throughout the night, but any missed time would be devastating to Michigan’s next goals of winning the Big Ten Tournament, making the Final Four, and winning a national championship. Without Mitch McGary, Michigan has had to rely on Morgan and Jon Horford to split time down low, and the next remaining option, Max Bielfeldt, is not quite on the same level.

 With the win last night and a win over Indiana on Saturday, Michigan will have beaten every Big Ten team at least once in the same season for the first time since 1992 and would have 15 wins for the first time since 1993.

 In a game when rebounding was pretty much made worthless by Michigan’s hyper-efficiency, Jon Horford came out with 10 boards (one offensive) for the first time since Michigan’s win over South Carolina State on November 12.

 Trey Burke had a lot of fun watching and tweeting about the game last night and shared a couple observations:

___________________________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-9 1-3 2-2 1 4 5 1 13 1 2 0 2 34
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 2-5 1-1 4-4 2 5 7 1 9 5 0 0 1 26
11 Nik Stauskas* 8-11 7-9 1-2 0 2 2 0 24 2 0 0 0 31
52 Jordan Morgan* 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 7
23 Caris LeVert* 5-9 2-3 3-6 0 4 4 3 15 1 2 0 1 26
02 Spike Albrecht 2-2 2-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 6 3 2 0 0 15
05 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
14 Brad Anlauf 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
15 Jon Horford 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 9 10 2 2 1 0 1 0 28
20 Sean Lonergan 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 2
21 Zak Irvin 3-6 3-5 0-0 0 2 2 2 9 1 2 0 1 22
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 5
Totals 29-51 16-23 10-14 4 29 33 12 84 15 10 1 5 200
Illinois 20-52 2-18 11-16 5 18 23 14 53 7 8 0 4 200
Full Stats

Champs again: Michigan 66 – Minnesota 56

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014


Big Ten Champions(MGoBlue.com)

A few minutes before Michigan tipped off their second-to-last home game of the season versus Minnesota, a stunned crowd started to quietly file out of the Breslin Center an hour to the northwest after watching their Michigan State Spartans fall in defeat to Illinois. With that result in the books, Michigan would be guaranteed at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win over the Golden Gophers.

But the young Wolverines didn’t know about that help they were given right away.

“Jon Horford mentioned it at halftime,” said Glenn Robinson III after the game. “I don’t know how he found out, but we all said that we were gonna stay focused and win this game and that gave us more motivation.”

And win the game they did. After coming out of the gates a little bit slow, which has become the norm of late, Michigan ended the first half on a 22-5 run to take an 11-point lead into the locker room. With the added motivation in the second stanza, the Wolverines staved off a feisty Gopher squad and clinched the Big Ten championship with a 66-56 win.

Glenn Robinson III made the highlight of the game with an alley-oop dunk over two Gophers (MGoBlue.com)

Glenn Robinson III made the highlight of the game with an alley-oop dunk over two Gophers (MGoBlue.com)

The star of the show was once again sophomore Nik Stauskas, whose five threes matched a conference high for him this year and whose 21 points led all scorers, but it took a while to get Michigan going.

A wide open corner three from the Canadian opened the scoring for Michigan 1:15 into the game and a Derrick Walton, Jr. midrange jumper two minutes later gave the Wolverines a one-point lead, but then things got a little worrisome.

Over the next 4:19 of game time, Michigan went scoreless and let Minnesota creep out to a 6-point advantage at the 10:53 mark of the first half. Luckily, however, the Maize and Blue’s defensive effort was about as good as it’s been all season, and they did an excellent job in limiting the Golden Gophers to just five points after a Maurice Walker bucket exactly halfway into the opening half.

In that 10-minute span, Michigan showed why they have been so difficult for any team to defend them this year with great pizzazz. Stauskas, who quipped after the game that he had made 48-of-50 threes in a drill after practice on Friday, nailed two more threes and a layup to give him 11 at the break. Caris LeVert and Walton each added one three apiece, while Robinson III showed why he had so many NBA scouts drooling over his potential going into this season.

Robinson, perhaps the most polarizing player on the team – but not for his quiet and kind personality – pulled up from 18-feet with 9:44 on the clock in the first half and drained a shot that is quickly becoming a favorite for him. A few minutes later, the sophomore conjured images of his dad’s past play with a strong move and bucket from five feet away. Then Robinson threw down an alley-oop from Stauskas that may have been the dunk of the season in the Big Ten. When Stauskas threw the ball up, Robinson had two defenders between himself and the hoop, but instead of running around them, he simply jumped over both, rose gracefully through the air, and hammered home the lob to give the home team a six-point lead.

After a Stauskas three on Michigan’s next possession, Robinson received another lob from the same teammate and this time had to contort his body slightly to convert a mid-air lay-in.

In the second half, Minnesota made things interesting behind 14 points from Austin Hollins, and even cut Michigan’s lead to two points with 4:31 to go, but the Wolverines were able to hold on with some strong rebounding and toughness from fifth-year senior captain Jordan Morgan, who grabbed 10 boards for the second time this season.

Stauskas made five threes for the fourth time this season (MGoBlue.com)

Stauskas made five threes for the fourth time this season (MGoBlue.com)

Morgan, who has never been a star on either end of the floor but has been a stalwart for four John Beilein teams, simply outmuscled Minnesota a couple of times for rebounds and made perhaps the biggest play of the game by drawing a held ball with 4:06 to go when a Gopher seemed to have secured a rebound while trailing by just two points. Instead of having a chance to knot it up or even take the lead, Minnesota lost the possession and saw Michigan score five straight to seal the deal.

After the game, both Richard Pitino and John Beilein called Morgan’s hustle play “huge”.

“I thought we did a good job of fighting back in the second half there,” Pitino said. “(But that play was) huge, huge, huge. That was the play of the game, in my opinion. We had a chance to get it, they had a chance to get it, two-point game. I thought that changed the game. Simple as (a) 50-50 ball. They got it, we didn’t.”

Beilein shared similar thoughts: ”I mean, it was huge, because you could see that one was gonna come down to somebody was gonna make big shots for us or them, and whoever did was gonna win the game. When you can keep possession, you keep them from hitting that big shot.”

In the overall picture, it is quite amazing what these Wolverines have already accomplished this season, having won 75 percent of their 28 games so far and 81 percent of their Big Ten games with two remaining. Almost all of this success has come without the services of preseason All-America center Mitch McGary and after a season in which two Wolverines from last year’s team are making splashes in the NBA. Few thought Michigan would compete for a Big Ten championship before McGary went down with a back injury, and some questioned whether the Wolverines would even earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament starting later this month.

Now, those pundits look foolish as Michigan has all but guaranteed their first outright conference championship in 28 years, a top-3 seed in the Big Dance, and a whole lot of respect.

Then again, these Wolverines are making a lot of teams and coaches look foolish too.

Three Stars:

***Nik Stauskas***
21 points (7-of-13 FG, 5-of-8 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), four assists, three rebounds, two turnovers in 37 minutes

**Glenn Robinson III**
12 points (6-of-10 FG, 0-of-1 3PT), four rebounds (one offensive), three assists, one block, three turnovers in 35 minutes

*Austin Hollins*
16 points (6-of-12 FG, 2-of-6 3PT, 2-of-2 FT), three rebounds, two steals, one block, three turnovers in 35 minutes

Quick Hitters:

 As each game passes, it becomes more and more clear how much Nik Stauskas’s success correlates to the team’s overall success. In games in which Stauskas has scored at least 12 points, the Wolverines are 18-3. When he scores 11 or fewer, Michigan is just 2-4 (he missed one game).

Moving forward, opposing teams will see this and do their best to shut Stauskas down, but if he continues to be as aggressive as he has been lately, he will be tough to stop. Beilein noted after the game that he has been pleased to see Stauskas start to shoot more even when he’s not wide open and has encouraged him to keep firing even more.

 Glenn Robinson III continues to struggle from beyond the three-point line, but he has seemed to figure things out inside recently. The sophomore has scored double-digit points in four straight games and has made 60 percent or more of his shots in Michigan’s past two contests. When asked after the game what, if anything, has changed for him, Robinson III gave an interesting response: “I’ve been listening to slower music before the games. I read that it kinda calms you, doesn’t put as much pressure on you, (so) that’s something I’ve been doing.”

When prompted to rattle off some names, Robinson obliged.

“My mom used to always listen to Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, those type of lady singers, slow singers, I like that,” Robinson said. “It calms me, makes me think of my mom, grandma, and all those people that have been with me throughout the game.”

 Michigan has now swept four of the seven Big Ten teams they will face twice this year for the first time since the 2011-12 season, but unlike that year, they won’t be swept by any conference foe.

 With a win in either of their two remaining games or a single loss by Wisconsin and Michigan State in their last two games, Michigan will clinch an outright Big Ten championship for the first time since the 1986 season.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-10 0-1 0-0 1 3 4 1 12 3 3 1 0 35
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-5 2-4 0-0 0 3 3 3 8 0 0 0 0 18
11 Nik Stauskas* 7-13 5-8 2-2 0 3 3 1 21 4 2 0 0 37
52 Jordan Morgan* 2-3 0-0 1-3 2 8 10 3 5 0 2 0 0 32
23 Caris LeVert* 5-13 1-5 2-2 0 3 3 1 13 5 1 0 2 37
02 Spike Albrecht 2-3 1-2 2-2 1 1 2 2 7 2 0 0 0 24
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 2 0 0 1 0 0 8
21 Zak Irvin 0-3 0-3 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 9
Totals 25-50 9-23 7-9 5 23 28 14 66 14 10 1 2 200
Minnesota 22-48 5-18 7-11 5 22 27 15 56 10 11 1 5 200
Full Stats