Three-point shooting lifts Michigan to easy victory


Michigan 93, S Carolina St 59-11South Carolina State picked the wrong team to leave open on the perimeter.

Michigan’s 93-59 trouncing of the Bulldogs was an endless loop of drawing the shakily-assembled defense into the paint, and kicking it out to an impossibly open Wolverine. Michigan shot 28 3-pointers on the night and made 15. They were so open they were practically obliged to take them, which they were more than happy to do.

South Carolina State was playing what looked like a matchup zone, but the defense was constantly shifting. Whatever they were playing, it looked to be based in zone, whether it was 2-3 or 3-2 or some other variety.

“I think this team (Michigan) can get open looks against a lot of zones,” John Beilein said during the press conference following the game on Tuesday. “We have enough skilled guys to do that. It was the idea of pushing the ball to the rim. We didn’t get to the foul line a lot, but they sort of shrunk their defense into the paint and we could find a lot of open corner threes in particular.”

Michigan’s white-hot shooters featured one name that is familiar from last year, and one that is becoming so this season. Nik Stauskas made five of his six attempts from downtown — which isn’t unheard of — but the sharpshooter was joined (and outdone) by Caris LeVert, who hit six of seven attempts and was the team’s leading scorer with 24 points.

LeVert hit five of his 3-pointers early on in the first half, and Stauskas’s makes quickly proceeded them. Was there perhaps a slight intra-squad competition between the two? LeVert denied it.

“Nah, it wasn’t,” LeVert said with a laugh when asked. “Not at all. Maybe to him it was. I don’t know.”

Stauskas was mum on the subject, only remarking on the display of firepower by the two sophomores.

“Yeah man, it was crazy today,” Stauskas said. “He hit five in a row, then I hit five in a row. It was unbelievable.”

Stauskas added that after initially being confused by some of the looks South Carolina State was giving them on defense, the Wolverines fell back on a strategy that ended up working out for them.

When in doubt, attack the basket.

“It was tough to see what kind of defense they were in,” Stauskas said. “Sometimes it seemed like a man, and sometimes it looked like a zone. So we were just trying to attack the key. Whenever you get into the middle of the key, good things are going to happen. We had a lot of guys who were passing the ball well, driving the ball well, and any time you can kick out for open threes, you can’t complain about that.”

Beilein also attributed his team’s shooting success to its attacking style offensively. However, he also noted that Michigan spent most of its time getting out on the fast break and not allowing the Bulldogs to settle in to their defense.

“They were spreading out, there was 3-2, there was 2-3, they were pressing us,” Beilein said. “But most of the time in that first half we were in transition offense because of clean rebounds and a fast break. … We didn’t run a lot of plays today. We just played ball because of the nature of the fast break.”

Even more than the hot shooting from deep, Michigan can thank its ability to share the ball for this victory. Players were attacking the basket constantly, but they were doing so with an eye toward finding their teammates because they saw the way the defense was collapsing.

The evidence? 19 assists on 31 made shots. That and sticking with the hot hand were instrumental to Michigan’s success on Tuesday.

“There was no question when Caris got it going, they love Caris LeVert, and I wasn’t taking him out until he missed one, because he did need a rest,” Beilein said. “Same thing when Nik (Stauskas) gets it going. They really look for each other and we preach it as much as we can: when someone has it going, let’s find him. And we did that.”

Caris explained the key to the game in his usual no-nonsense manner:

“Guys were knocking down shots today,” LeVert said. “That’s the key to it, right there.”

  • DingoBlue

    I shouldn’t be, but I’m still upset that the offense relatively stalled in the second half (compared to the first). Our KenPom rating went up but our rank went down. Also, Jabari Parker looked pretty scary last night. Cameron Indoor will be extremely tough to pull a win from.

    • Matt

      Duke might be one of the games Morgan gets a ton of minutes solely to guard Parker. Michigan State is another one with Payne.

      • Kam

        morgan cant guard paker.but i think he trys that game

        • Matt

          No one can guard Parker but I think Morgan has the best chance of being able to balance defending both the in post and on the perimeter than anyone else on the roster.

          • Kam

            maybe so! parker didn’t really post up last game though. so if he isn’t posting up, then glenn should have him?

        • Daniel

          Out of curiosity, you wouldn’t happen to be a basketball player with a last name that rhymes with “thatman,” would you?

          • Kam

            lol uhh no

      • buda

        I love J-Mo but he wouldn’t stand a chance against Parker. He lacks the necessary foot speed and the length. I think GRIII will get the assignment, with Caris and Irvin spelling him where necessary. Not ideal as Parker will have at least 2 inches and 15 lbs on those guys, but Parker showed in the first half of last night’s game that you can’t put a big on him.

        • arsenal926

          Parker’s biggest criticism is that he isn’t that quick. However, what he lacks in foot speed he makes up for in craftiness and basketball IQ. You definitely need the whole team to stop a player like him but I do agree with Matt that Morgan is probably the best option.

      • BlueBear_E

        If Morgan is truly our best bet to stop Parker, there is no reason for us to even go to Durham. Yes, Parker is big and has great footwork around the basket, but he is a perimeter player that hits almost every good look he has. Morgan is going to sag way off and close too slowly.

        It has to be Robinson and Irvin. They have the length, athletic ability, and experience to close out shooters without getting burnt. If Parker posts, then we double and cover open shooters the best we can. This will be a chance for GRIII to show some leadership. He might have to sacrifice a little energy on the offensive end to focus on locking-down Parker. If GRIII could go a few rounds in the post 1 on 1 and hold his own, that would make it even tougher for Parker to facilitate from the post.

        On the plus side, this Michigan team should better at rotating and closing-out on shooters than any other team Beilein has had. Walton and LeVert are both really quick and alert. We have heard that Irvin is a capable defender, and Stauskas can be effective with his length if spacing is near-perfect.

        • Matt

          I think you are far underestimating Parkers post ability. I think Morgan has a far better chance on the perimeter than Robinson or Irvin do in the post.

    • JVS

      Went to the Duke game last night, and I don’t know that any one person can guard Parker. He’s a lot bigger than he was last time I saw HS highlights, so I think some combo of our best long perimeter defender (Caris/Irvin) flushing him into some inside help off penetration would be our best chance of containing him. All that said, the rest of Duke looked average, especially inside. If Mitch is back, and in the flow of things, I think we stand a really good chance. Let Parker have his 20-25, play solid team D, generate some solid offense inside, and hope the 3s are falling.

  • Champswest

    Small sample size, but LeVert looks like he can more than make up for the loss of Hardaway.

    After watching MSU/Kentucky and Kansas/Duke, all 4 are much better than last year. I wonder if we could beat any of them right now, even with McGary. Guess we will start to find out soon enough.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    sunday @ iowa state will be a good test to see where we stand without Mitch…once Mitch gets back – we will be very versatile – at the moment we rely soly on our wings which is fine but we will be matchup problem – once Mitch comes back

  • Kam

    For the people saying Morgan should guard him i understand why, but Morgan HAS NEVER guarded someone with the skills of parker.. he has wing man skills but big like a college PF.. i don’t think Morgan can handle him out side of 10 feet.. Plus jabari the last 2 games i watched really didn’t post that much and when he did he didn’t dominate down there although he was still sold.