Jan. 1, 2014
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations
The University of Michigan men's basketball team finished its preseason schedule with a home win over Holy Cross last Saturday (Dec. 26). With Mitch McGary out of the lineup, Jordan Morgan started for the second time this season, giving him 97 starts in his career. U-M will platoon Morgan, Jon Horford and Max Bielfeldt in the post. Mark Donnal is still redshirting the season at this point.
Glenn Robinson III scored a career-best 23 points against Holy Cross. Over his last four games he is averaging 19.3 points and shooting 66.7 percent from the field (28-for-42) and 46.7 percent from long range (7-for-15).
"He (Robinson) had a full-court drive the other day against Holy Cross that was something we've encouraged him to do all year long," said head coach John Beilein. "He's got this other gear. We all see it. And he's getting closer to using it more and more."
Nik Stauskas had 16 points on the night against the Crusaders. Known for his long-range shooting, Stauskas has had an even balance of scoring this season. He is 27-for-54 on two-point field goals (50.0 percent) -- mainly driving to the basket -- and 29-for-61 from long range (47.5 percent). He has scored exactly 200 points with 54 coming from two-point field goals, 87 from long range and 59 from the free throw line.
Michigan will begin Big Ten play tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 2) on the road against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers enter conference play at 11-2, their only two losses coming in the Maui Invitational against Syracuse (75-67) and Arkansas (87-73). They remain an undefeated 9-0 at Williams Arena this season and have won 12 straight games at home since losing to Illinois (57-53) on Feb. 10, 2013.
Minnesota is led this season by three players averaging double figures: junior guard Andre Hollins (16.2 points per game), senior guard Austin Hollins (13.5), and junior guard Deandre Mathieu (11.9). The Gophers lead the Big Ten in free throw shooting (76 percent) and steals per game (8.8).
"They're an 11-2 team with outstanding veterans, or they've been able to boost their rosters through transfers," said Beilein. "As a result they've got fourth-year players who are redshirts playing up front. And then the Hollins tandem we've seen now for three and four years -- they're just excellent guards. But really, the difference for them is Deandre Mathieu. He is a heck of a player. He is that lead guard that everybody really needs to really be successful. It makes both Hollinses better each time he's on the floor. He just seems to be in control and running the team."
The Wolverines lead the all-time series against the Golden Gophers, 86-65, and are 11-3 under Beilein, including 5-1 at Williams Arena.
Michigan's visits to Minnesota in recent years have led to some of the Wolverines' season highlights. In 2011, Michigan's trip to the Barn was considered a must-win game for the team to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines opened the contest with a hot hand, making all of their first six shot attempts from the field -- all three-pointers. The Gophers then went on a 10-0 run to reduce Michigan's lead to just two points at halftime.
Yet, the Wolverines hung on, thanks in part to a critical three-pointer, followed by a steal, from Zack Novak that helped seal the game in its final minutes. The contest ended in a 70-63 Wolverine win.
Last year's visit was a physical contest that saw Morgan and Trey Burke have to change jerseys after their uniforms were ripped while on the court. Yet, the most memorable highlight of Michigan's 83-75 victory was Robinson's 360-degree dunk, which appeared on ESPN's SportsCenter's top 10 plays.
Changes to Minnesota's style of play are expected this season as the Gophers welcome new head coach Richard Pitino. Before coming to Minnesota, Pitino spent one season as head coach at Florida International, leading them to an 18-14 record (11-9 Sun Belt East).
Pitino is the son of Louisville's Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino, whose team defeated Michigan last year in the NCAA championship game.