Game 8: Western Michigan at Michigan Recap


Photo: Detroit News

Michigan opened Tuesday’s game against Western Michigan slowly but eventually found its groove to cruise to an easy 73-41 victory. The Wolverines looked lifeless out of the gate but managed to sleepwalk their way past a Western Michigan team that simply didn’t have the horses to compete.

Trey Burke was nearly flawless on the night, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 (2-4 3pt) shooting while handing out seven assists to no turnovers. But Michigan’s effort was balanced as 10 Wolverines saw action in the first half, eight played at least 10 minutes and nine found the scoring column. Michigan’s defense stifled Western Michigan on the other end of the floor. The Wolverines managed to force more turnovers (18) than allowed field goals (13) while holding the Broncos to a dreary .67 points per possessions.

Michigan’s offense was far from perfect but this isn’t an offense that needs to be hitting on all cylinders to be dominant. In fact, Michigan’s shooting (57% 2P, 38% 3P), rebounding and turnover numbers were all within a couple percentage points of its season averages. The free throw production, and efficiency, left a bit to be desired but the overall offensive performance still netted 1.15 points per trip. That mark was still the highest offensive efficiency the Broncos have allowed this season. The strongest endorsement of Michigan’s offense might be that the Wolverines have the best per-possession offensive performances that each opponent has allowed all season.

Michigan’s defense surrendered a number of easy looks in the first half – WMU converted 53% of its twos in the first – mostly because Wolverine interior defenders were getting pulled away from the basket hedging the pick-and-roll and the backside help was continually late. But Michigan’s aggressive play at the top of the key paid off in the turnover department. The Broncos turned the ball on over 40 percent of their first half possessions (29% turnover rate for the game) which offset the fact that they got to the free throw line fairly often. The Wolverines corrected those interior woes in the second half as Western Michigan shot just 27% on second half twos and 11% on threes. That improvement allowed Michigan to steadily increase its lead until the game was out of hand.

Michigan’s offense found the roll man on the screen and roll early and often on Tuesday night. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary were both extremely effective in slipping the screen early to roll to the basket – and U-M’s guards and wings found them. Michigan’s big man duo combined to go 9-of-11 from the field while all 11 attempts were dunks and layups and eight of nine makes were assisted by one of Michigan’s guards.

Next up for for Michigan is an opportunity to avenge one of last season’s more disappointing losses. Arkansas makes the trip North on Saturday after picking up a solid home victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday evening. The Hogs are just 4-3 but will provide a unique uptempo, high ball pressure test that Mike Anderson’s teams are renowned for.


Photos: Detroit News

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: You can’t play the point guard position much better than Burke did today. The stats (20 pts, 8-11 fg, 7 ast, 0 to, 3 stls) speak for themselves and they were quality stats. Burke simply made plays: step back jumpers, mid-range off of the curl, threes when defenders go under screens, cross-over dribbles. Burke’s patience with the ball in his hands is marvelous to watch as he picks apart opposing defenses. His defensive production wasn’t bad either as he grabbed three steals and even took a pair of charges. When the only play meriting real criticism is a questionable three point shot at the end of the half, it was a pretty good night. Burke has now handed out 23 assists to just two turnovers in the last three games combined.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas showed off more of his passing game, doubling his season total with four assists on the evening, but still was plenty proficient from beyond the arc. Stauskas finished with 11 points on 3-of-6 (3-4 3pt) shooting and is now at 64% from three point range on the season. One play that will probably go unnoticed was Stauskas defending Darius Paul on the block and knocking the ball away for a turnover.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway struggled from the field for the second straight game but it’s too early to panic. The encouraging aspect of Hardaway’s night was that he kept doing what he was so successful with to start the season. Hardaway continued to attack the basket even if he missed a few shots around five or six feet from the bucket that he usually hits. Hardaway finished just 3-of-10 from the field but did grab three boards and hand out three assists along with a late three pointer. His monster slam early in the game also provided a bit of energy to an otherwise listless night.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson can’t just be a jumpshooter. His early jumpshooting this season was encouraging but he’s capable of so much more and its inevitable that he’ll have his fair share of nights like this (3-10 fg) where his jumper isn’t connecting. The 6-foot-6 freshman continues to find his role in the offense and it will be interesting to see where he progresses throughout December. Does he start putting the ball on the floor? Can John Beilein find his sweet spot on the floor? One thing about Robinson that just doesn’t add up, he continuously out leaps everyone for alley-oops or put-backs but often misses the easy put in.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was very solid, scoring 8 points, grabbing eight rebounds and even a pair of steals. If teams don’t take him away in the pick-and-roll then he’s very capable of finishing at a fairly high level – although he did miss two of six layups on the night.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary scored a career high 10 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting in 14 minutes. He did a great job catching and finishing passes off of the screen and roll but needs to improve in the next element: what to do if a shot isn’t there. McGary struggled with turnovers (4) and seemed to force things when the Broncos trapped or doubled him on the block.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert has clearly surpassed Vogrich on the depth chart and is the first two guard off of the bench. A week ago he was on the scout team, so it’s clear that he’s still feeling his way out but he made some strong plays. He took a charge, hit his first shot (a shot clock beating three) and was active on the floor. He finished 1-of-4 from the field although he had another shot rim in and out. His development should be fascinating to watch throughout December leading up to Big Ten play.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht continues to be steady when backing up Burke, handing out a pair of assists and scoring on a turnaround up-and-under slow motion basket in the lane.
  • Jon Horford: This was a very strong performance from Horford. He rebounded well – five rebounds in 10 minutes – and picked up a block. The offensive production wasn’t there but the defense and rebounding many expected from Horford was very evident.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich got a first half opportunity but picked up a turnover on a cross court pass and a foul in limited time. Late in the second half he did check in and bury a three pointer.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt was sidelined with a sprained ankle and Beilein reported that his status for Saturday’s game is up in the air.

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