Michigan Set to Entertain Holy Cross in Final Big Ten Tuneup
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MGOBLUE Nik Stauskas
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Nik Stauskas
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Dec. 27, 2013

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By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations

Last Saturday (Dec. 21), the University of Michigan men's basketball team faced Stanford as part of the Brooklyn Holiday Hoops invitational at the Barclays Center. The Wolverines led by as many as 10 points over the course of the game, but Stanford fought back late in the second half, cutting its deficit to just a point with only seconds remaining the game.

Sophomore Nik Stauskas was fouled with 7.8 seconds left on the clock and hit both free throws. Stanford's Chasson Randle missed a game-tying three-point attempt, and the Wolverines pulled out the close game, 68-65.

"That would have been pretty devastating to come out of that without a win," said head coach John Beilein. "We did a really good job of making foul shots down the stretch. We did a great job of executing a play that we needed to make when we were up two. At the same time, we had a careless foul at the other end to make it a one-point game. We learned a lot."

Stauskas was the Wolverines' high scorer with 19 points, followed by sophomore Glenn Robinson III (17) and freshman Zak Irvin (12), who also recorded double digits.

After some time off for the holidays, Michigan returns to Crisler Center this Saturday (Dec. 28) to face Holy Cross.

Last season, Holy Cross went 12-18 (4-10 Patriot League), falling in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament. This season the Crusaders sit at 6-5.

In their third game of the season, the Crusaders traveled to North Carolina, where they nearly upset the Tar Heels but ultimately came up short, falling 62-54. Holy Cross' other losses have come against Harvard (82-72), Belmont (81-70), Hartford (90-78) and Canisius (83-73).

The Crusaders have a deep rotation this season, with nine players averaging more than 10 minutes per game.

They are led by senior forward Dave Dudzinski, named second team All-Patriot League last season after ranking fourth in the league in both scoring and rebounding. This season he was named preseason All-Patriot League and is considered a Patriot League Player of the Year candidate. Dudzinski leads his team in points (17.1) and rebounds (7.6) per game. Though he plays primarily in the low post, Dudzinski also has connected on 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) three-point attempts.

Sophomore Cullen Hamilton is Holy Cross' second top scorer. Named to the Patriot League's all-rookie team last season, the 6-foot-3 guard made his way into the starting rotation late in the 2012-13 season. He averaged 16.2 points per game in the first five games of 2013-14 while shooting a solid 14-of-34 (41.2 percent) from three. However, due to injury, Hamilton has sat out the Crusaders' last six games. Sophomore Eric Green has stepped up to take his place in the starting lineup, averaging 7.9 points a game.

Also featured in the Crusaders starting lineup is junior power forward Taylor Abt. Abt brings experience to the lineup and is considered to be the team's best post defender. However, the team's second power forward, freshman Malachi Alexander, has emerged as one of the team's best scorers, averaging 10.1 points per game.

Similarly, 5-foot-9 junior point guard Justin Burrell is Holy Cross' starting point guard, dishing out 2.9 assists a game, but he shares much of his time on the court with backup freshman Anthony Thompson. Thompson is one of the team's best scorers (9 points per game) and hands out 2.8 assists a night on average.

Junior Malcolm Miller is an athletic player, known in previous seasons primarily for his highlight-reel style dunks. This season, he has developed more consistency on offense, becoming one of the Crusaders' most important players and averaging 9.8 points per game.

Freshman Robert Champion has played in eight games this season, averaging 11.8 minutes off the bench.

Saturday's contest will mark just the fourth time Michigan and Holy Cross have met. Michigan leads the overall series, 2-1. The last time the two teams met was in the consolation game of the Utah Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1988. Michigan won that meeting, 100-63.


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