Game 12: Holy Cross at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Mich vs Holy Cross_19
Scott Mapes

Michigan 88, Holy Cross 66. Photo gallery. Beilein presser. Horford and Morgan videos. Box score.

All eyes were on Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan to see how they reacted to the pressure of replacing Mitch McGary but Michigan’s wings stole the show in an easy 22 point win over Holy Cross.

The Wolverines pushed the ball consistently and the Crusaders had no match for Michigan’s ability to attack the basket in a game that deteriorated into glorified pick up ball in the second half. Glenn Robinson III tallied a career high 23 points while Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas both added 16.

Horford and Morgan were solid in relief of McGary, combining for 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds, but the Wolverines ran away with the game thanks to their ability to attack the rim off the bounce.


Michigan’s offense never missed a beat from the opening tip-off, scoring 88 points in 66 offensive possession. The Wolverines were most effective in transition but hummed along throughout the game with 61% 2-point shooting and 44% 3-point shooting for a 63% effective field goal percentage. Michigan’s offensive aggressiveness was evident throughout the stat sheet: 19 free throw attempts, 16 second chance points and 70% of field goal attempts inside the arc. The Michigan offense crushed low-major competition this year, scoring 460 points on 329 possessions for 1.39 points per trip, and this game was no exception.

Defensively, Michigan’s performance left a bit more to be desired. Holy Cross scored a point per possession, making this Michigan’s worst defensive performance against a low-major team this season. The Wolverines’ saving grace was their ability to take away free points at the charity stripe. Holy Cross only attempted 10 free throws to 61 field goal attempts and they all came in the second half. The Crusaders entered the game scoring 27% of their points at the stripe and earned just 11% of their points at the stripe at the Crisler Center. Michigan also controlled the defensive glass, rebounding nearly 80% of the Crusaders’ misses.

However, the Holy Cross shooting numbers were more troubling. Michigan’s interior defense was fairly stout – the Crusaders shot just 40% on twos – but the Wolverines surrendered too many open looks from three-point range. Holy Cross was 10-of-23 (44%) from long range and while some of the looks were very deep, most were very open. Holy Cross’ two most effective offensive players were 5-foot-9 point guard Justin Burrell (14 points on 8 shots) and 6-foot-8 big man Dave Dudzinski (17 points on 16 shots), who just happen to play the positions where Michigan has the most questions to answer.

Non-conference play is in the books and Michigan’s 8-4 record is about as disappointing as the news that Mitch McGary will be sidelined for a long time (potentially the rest of the season). The Wolverines started the season with a bunch of questions to answer and have generated more questions rather than answering the ones already on the table. How good is Michigan? No one is really sure. The Wolverines have some great wing talent in Robinson, Stauskas and LeVert but have to figure things out the one and five positions in Big Ten play.

Mich vs Holy Cross_16
Scott Mapes

Player Bullets:

  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson is averaging 19 points per game over the last four contests and is 21-of-27 (78%) on twos and 7-of-15 on threes (47%) for a 75% eFG%. 14 shot attempts ties a career high and this was easily one of the most aggressive offensive games that Robinson has played at Michigan. He started out with the jumper but also scored off the bounce – both in transition and the half court – and was his ever present athletic self when finishing around the rim. Overall this was a great performance and his importance to this team is emphasized by McGary’s injury.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert’s handle can get him into trouble at times but he is deadly against a team without a rim protector. He finished with an ultra-efficient 16 points on 6-of-8 (1-1 3pt) shooting with 7 rebounds, two assists, a block, a steal and a turnover. LeVert was as aggressive as anyone rebounding the ball and pushing the pace and he generally made positive things happen every time he did it.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas’s ability to come up with creative finishes through contact at the rim was on display despite a few forced attempts. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting (2-2 3pt) but also packed the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, four assists and a turnover. There were a few times he tried to be a bit too fancy but he had two A+ assists: an over the shoulder no look pass to Horford in transition and a great ball screen pass to Jordan Morgan for a layup.
  • Jordan Morgan: Michigan needs Morgan to do the little things he’s done throughout his career – not try to replace McGary in one swoop. He did a pretty good job of that against Holy Cross: a drawn charge, three offensive rebounds, 3-of-3 shooting and an assist in 22 minutes. He got beat a few times defensively but was generally solid and did his job.
  • Jon Horford: Horford was also solid, finishing with 10 points (4-of-7 shooting), five rebounds (2 off), an assist, a block and a turnover. He has the tendency to try to do a bit more than Morgan which can get him into trouble but he knocked down a nice turnaround in the post and had a few opportunistic buckets in the second half. Horford stayed out of foul trouble, but like Morgan he had a few blown assignments defensively and on the glass.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton made some nice plays. He finished with four assists to one turnover and had a strong drive to the rim in the first half. He missed a couple buckets that he probably could have finished around the basket and also lost track of 5-foot-9 point guard Justin Burrell a few times, failing to make him put the ball on the floor and allowing him to fire up threes (4-of-5 on the game).
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin had five quick points in the first half, burying a triple and then getting fouled on another three, but his shooting stroke cooled down a bit and he finished 2-of-6. He looked like he had some more confidence within the offense but that led to mistakes in transition: an ill-advised long bounce pass and a lob pass ahead to Jordan Morgan both ended up as turnovers.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht’s only two field goal attempts were long triples and he split the pair. He only had one assist in a fairly quiet game but made some nice things happen by over-penetrating and kicking the ball out. Michigan also played Albrecht with Walton more often than we’ve usually seen this season/
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt didn’t check in until garbage time late which is a pretty concrete sign that John Beilein only plans to play him if Morgan and Horford end up in foul trouble.
  • Kam

    I like Glenn being aggressive.. I like how caris pushes the break.. And i like how Nik had a complete offensive game! Those seem to be the big 3… hopefully walton and irvin keep improving.

  • Mattski

    A lot of Caris and Nik’s drives will not come so easy in the Big Ten.

    • Kam

      well.. to be fair Caris was able to drive pretty well against duke and Zonas massive front line

      • Mattski

        Those teams do not play football like many in the B1G do, and the season was still young. I hope I am wrong.

        • Kam

          football? haha and zona does.. they are massive.. but we will see

          • Mattski

            I don’t remember AZ banging us like B1G teams do; maybe I’m wrong. I’m cool with Beilein creating teams to thrive in the tourney rather than the Big Ten, anyway. . . Though it’s arguably in flux (and brings wins) I hate the way that Izzo’s teams, for ex., tend to play.

          • guestavo

            You guys do realize that OSU and MSU are more perimeter oriented this year than any year before?

    • AlwaysBlue

      I hope Nik doesn’t continue to force things in conference play. Caris seems to have a few more slithering tricks to get through traffic.

  • Chezaroo

    Lot of positives even against an outmanned opponent. We’ll take a combined 16 and 10 any day from “Horgan” duo. We always shoot so much better at home, and Glen appears to have really grasped his leadership role. Let’s hope it continues. We will see if our transition defense ( TD ) has improved at all come Thursday. It’s a huge opportunity to get a road win early in league. Should be a free flowing game, not a grinder as so many subsequent ones will undoubtedly be. If we shoot well, we have a chance. Go Blue!

  • Wayman Britt

    Well it’s time for the Big Ten season, where the defenses get tougher and the play gets more physical. At this point I am not sure how UM will do. There will be nights our defense will have to win games and that has me a little concerned.

  • BrianU

    I don’t know how you think Michigan’s season is disappointing thus far? They are 8-4, against duke at home ( not easy for any1) Arizona the #1 team in the country ( still undefeated) Iowa state (still undefeated) and a crappy loss to charlotte. With the team being the youngest in the big ten and a top 10 strength of schedule. Yes Michigan is having issue closing a few games, but honestly other than msu who has played a tougher schedule, not Ohio state they have played no one, Iowa only has played 1 or 2 elite teams, Wisconsin the same. And UofM has done this with a very injured pre-season all American big man.

    • geoffclarke

      I am disappointed simply because my expectations were higher. They have not been met for two very understandable reasons – McGary’s injury and Walton’s playing more like a freshman than a sophomore (and perhaps Robinson’s underperformance out of the gate, but countered by LeVert’s over performance) – but have not been met nonetheless. I’m still in the process of adjusting my expectations, but am still very hopeful for a very good season.

  • geoffclarke

    I think it’d be funny – and refreshing – if an announcer said after Nik makes a three – “He can actually make those; he’s more than just a driver and finisher.”