March 7, 2014
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations
On Tuesday night (March 4), Michigan captured its 14th conference win of the season, and its seventh win on the road, as U-M defeated Illinois, 84-53. Using 24 points from sophomore Nik Stauskas, paced by a career-high seven three-pointers, Michigan secured its first outright Big Ten title since 1986.
However, while the Wolverines had a small celebration as the trophy was presented to them in the locker room at the State Farm Center, the team knows that there is more to be done. Michigan has one game remaining in the regular season, against Indiana, and head coach John Beilein notes that his team has every incentive to win.
"We have Indiana players on our team. They beat us here last year on Senior Night. And they got us pretty good. They led from wire to wire at their place this year. So, I think there's a strong sense of urgency for our guys now, that this is the way they'd like to finish the season -- by beating a very good Indiana team," said Beilein.
Saturday's (March 8) matchup will have a special significance for fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan, who will be playing his last game at the Crisler Center.
"I think that having the Senior Day is always a special time. The only thing that ruins the Senior Day is a loss. I think that everyone wants this to be special for him," said Beilein.
Against Illinois, Morgan did not play for most of the second half, after taking a fall. Morgan practiced on Friday, and Beilein believes he will be ready for Senior Night.
"He fell on his back and got a pretty good bruise, but he's a warrior, and nothing's stopping him from being able to play in his last game," Beilein said. "Pain would be the only thing that would keep him out of there, or if we see that he's not moving well."
Beilein is quick to note, however, that there is more motivating the Wolverines than just Senior Night. Michigan is hoping to get revenge on the Hoosiers, who spoiled their Senior Night last year as well as the Wolverines' hopes of a share of the Big Ten title. In what was Michigan's final game of the season at Crisler Center, Indiana came back from behind late in the game to capture a 72-71 win, as the Maize and Blue missed a potentially game-winning tip-in attempt at the buzzer.
Then, earlier this season, Michigan fell, 63-52, at Indiana -- a loss which snapped U-M's 10-game win streak and marked the first conference loss of the season for the Wolverines. Michigan finished just 3-for-13 from long range, while Indiana went 8-for-12 as Yogi Ferrell went 7-for-8 by himself and finished with a game-best 27 points.
"You envision beating an Indiana team who has already beaten us this year and beat us last year in front of a sell-out crowd, with a Big Ten regular-season championship under your belt, that could be pretty special," Beilein said. "I think we're playing for that. We'd like to beat Indiana. That's the key part."
"We have a little bounce in our step now, which is always good," Beilein added. "We accomplished one big goal, and, now, let's not look back. Let's go after more."
The game tips off at 6 p.m. Saturday evening at Crisler Center, with ESPN televising the matchup.