Game 13: Michigan at Minnesota Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Associated Press

Michigan 63, Minnesota 60. Beilein presser (video & quotes). Player reaction (video). Box score.

The Gophers had a new coach but the result was the same. Michigan won at Minnesota for the fifth time in a row. The Wolverines stole a 63-60 victory in their Big Ten opener despite Glenn Robinson III leaving the game with an ankle injury early in the second half.

With Robinson on the sidelines and Mitch McGary in a suit, it was ‘next man up’ for the Wolverines. Jon Horford tallied 14 points and nine rebounds while Zak Irvin knocked down five three-pointers off the bench.

But down the stretch it was Nik Stauskas who made the critical plays to finally pull the Wolverines ahead in a game that saw nine ties and ten lead changes. With 5:53 to play and the game tied 49-49, Stauskas took over. He handed out three assists and slammed home a back-door dunk in a seven possession stretch that secured the final Wolverine lead.

There were some late-game jitters and tense moments in the final minute of play but Michigan held on. DeAndre Mathieu’s open, but desperate, final three-point heave banked harmlessly off the glass as the final horn sounded and the Wolverines moved to 1-0 in the Big Ten.


There was a lot of talk before the game that this was a different Minnesota team under first-year head coach Richard Pitino but the box score looks eerily similar to Michigan-Minnesota games of late. The Gophers dominated the offensive glass but turned the ball over too often to win the game.

Michigan’s offense managed 1.04 points per possession – far from impressive but just enough to win. The Wolverines shot well from outside – 7-of-17 with five of the makes from Zak Irvin – and were okay inside the arc – 48% on two-point attempts. Michigan had four turnovers in the first six minutes, but only gave the ball away six times in the final 34 minutes. Michigan’s offensive rebounding progressed in the opposite direction. After grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first half, the Wolverines failed to grab an offensive board in the second. Michigan’s ability to get to the free throw line was critical. Eight of Michigan’s 22 free throw attempts came in late-game scenarios but the Wolverines were aggressive attacking the basket and were rewarded with some freebies.

This wasn’t a great defensive effort. Michigan made two critical stops down the stretch but has major issues to fix on the defensive end. Minnesota dominated the offensive glass, rebounding 44% of its misses for 11 second chance points, but that wasn’t even Michigan’s biggest problem. The Wolverines simply couldn’t keep Minnesota’s guards out of the lane.

DeAndre Mathieu, Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins had brutal shooting nights – 7-of-29 combined from the floor – but gave Michigan fits with their ability to penetrate the lane and drop off easy passes to Elliot Eliason and Maurice Walker. Jon Horford was constantly drawn away from the basket to provide help, leaving Minnesota’s big men open for layups or putbacks at the rim. Minnesota’s guards are good, but this is an issue that’s going to plague the Wolverines against most Big Ten foes if they can’t improve their perimeter defense dramatically.

John Beilein called two beautiful sets out of timeouts (one was after a free throw dead ball timeout) which resulted in dunks for Nik Stauskas and Jon Horford. Those two possessions were critical and Beilein deserves plenty of credit for those possessions. But after it appeared that Michigan had secured the game, things went a bit awry. Michigan had a defensive breakdown to give up an open three and then called a timeout with Stauskas on the line to put Michigan up three and four seconds to play when Minnesota was out of timeouts. The Gophers got a great shot for DeAndre Mathieu after the Stauskas free throw and that was disappointing considering how many times Michigan has been burned by those type of plays in recent years. Beilein has never been for fouling up three in the final seconds (citing the concern of fouling the three-point shooter) but this was yet another close call.

It wasn’t always pretty but this was a pivotal win for the Wolverines – an especially impressive win considering that Glenn Robinson III was sidelined for the second half. Michigan has three of the easiest games on its conference schedule coming up and could get off to a fast start which would provide a much needed confidence boost. Robinson’s health will be critical – Beilein offered no post-game update – because without him and McGary for any extended period of the time this team will be in real trouble.

Associated Press

Player Bullets:

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas was great last season but regressed a bit in conference play and this was the first time in his career that Michigan gave him the keys and asked him to bring home a Big Ten win on the road. He did his job. Stauskas finished with 14 points, seven assists and two turnovers and really carried Michigan’s offense in the final 10 minutes. He had some great dishes to Horford and Morgan (the secondary break drag screen with Stauskas has a great success rate) and Minnesota just couldn’t keep him out of the lane.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton grew up a bit tonight. He wasn’t perfect, and looked very rattled early, but he made more plays than he has for a while. His final stats: 7 points on 1-of-4 shooting, four rebounds, four assists and one turnover won’t wow anyone but he spearheaded the run that got Michigan back in the game mid-way through the second half. He also had some big time rebounds for a 6-foot guard down the stretch. Overall, a huge step in the right direction for Walton who looked more engaged and confident on the floor in the second half.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin is essentially ‘just a shooter’ but he went 5-of-8 from behind the line and was Michigan’s only three-point threat. I think back to the Charlotte game when Irvin went 3-of-14 from the floor after Robinson went down with an injury. Beilein gave Irvin the green light in that game and while it didn’t work then, it gave Irvin a huge boost in confidence going forward. Since then he’s 21 of 41 (51%) from long range and he was clearly ready to step up when Robinson went down. I also think Irvin played pretty well on the defensive end of the floor as well.
  • Jon Horford: Horford finished with 14 points (6-of-8 shooting), nine rebounds, two steals and a block in 30 minutes. Horford made some frustrating plays – he made an ill-advised outlet pass in the final five minutes, still struggles recovering on ball screen hedges, and has questionable hands at times – but he made far more positive plays. Horford seemed to make the more difficult shots and provided timely scoring when Michigan really needed a bucket on the block.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Beilein had no update on Robinson’s injury (he just confirmed that it was in his ankle/foot area) but he played very well when he was in the game with a reverse alley-oop and four blocks. He didn’t have a huge half but still seemed to be more aggressive offensively than we saw early in the season.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert played a very forgettable game. His offensive numbers weren’t good – 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting with three assists and four turnovers – and his defense might have been worse. He looked like he was sleep walking a bit early and he got caught ball watching several times defensively for backdoor cuts or missed close outs. LeVert has the tools to be a good perimeter defender but he needs to learn to sustain the mental effort for an entire game.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan picked up three fouls hedging ball screens pretty far away from the hoop. He also took a big charge and knocked down a surprising hook shot on the low block. Overall he tallied 3 points and two boards in eight minutes of playing time.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht missed both shots he took (open, but deep threes) and had two assists in 16 minutes of time. Minnesota’s jet-quick guards were tough on him defensively but he did a good job of settling the game down a bit when Walton struggled early on.
  • Max Bielfeldt : I thought Beilein was too quick to put Bielfeldt in the game in the first half. Michigan struggled on the glass when he was in the game and Bielfeldt also fired up an ill-advised three-point attempt. There are stamina and foul concerns with the Horford/Morgan combination up front but right now Michigan is a much better team with one of those two on the floor.
  • ChathaM

    It was good to see significant improvement in two areas. The offensive efficiency down the stretch that Dylan noted was huge. To an extent, UM did to Minny what Arizona did to UM a few weeks ago. Had Stauskas made the wide open 3 to put UM up 6, and had Horford made the bunny that he short-armed, they’d have done exactly what Arizona did to them a few weeks ago. Secondly, after Walton’s 2 FTs put UM up 59-54 with 1:18 to play, I’m sure we all thought that Minny would charge down the floor and score quickly, like seemingly every other opponent has done in a similar late game situation this season. But, the initial push was stopped, the first set was stopped with a nice help and recover sequence by Horford, and the possession ended with a turnover. Obviously, that wasn’t the game, but without that very strong defensive possession at a time where we simply haven’t seen one this season, the last 20 seconds may have played out much differently.

    I thought that Stauskas played within himself better than during any other game this season. He’ll continue to be guarded by the opponent’s best, and tonight, he seemed to balance aggressiveness with restraint very well.

    I think Minny only played one zone possession, and it ended with a made 3 off a nice inside-out pass by Stauskas. UM’s been efficient against zone all season, and it doesn’t make much sense to play any zone against them.

    One important holdover from the Tubby Smith teams is the poor shot selection. The TV guys talked about Pitino giving guys the green light to shoot, but wow; some of those 1st half 3 attempts were ill-advised. If Pitino can get the shot selection under control, I think Minny can be pretty good. If not, their ceiling is really limited.

    • Mith

      Pretty sure Minn played a few zone possessions, I know we turned it over at least once against the zone.

      • ChathaM

        You’re probably right. That one possession really stood out to me.

  • DingoBlue

    Not the prettiest win, but a big one. Road wins in the B1G you take no matter what. Was good to see some stuff from Horford. We are really going to need him next year.

    • gobluemd16

      This exactly, especially without Glenn in the second half. Gritty win away from home

  • robpollard

    Gutsy win. They never cracked under pressure, which is great for a young team. I thought Horford was huge, and Walton really stepped up in the 2nd half. Levert was out of control and was really disappointing, particularly with GRIII out — we’re going to need him to do more.

    —Personal pet Beilein peeve—Once again, we do a poor job defending an end of court in-bound play with 5 seconds or less left. Mathieu gets a dead on, lightly contested 25 footer and if he would have slowed down just a smidge (he had the time and the spacing) he could have gotten the same shot even more easy in rhythm. Beilein can put together offensive sets (like that beauty coming out of the TO w/ 2 mins left that ended with a Horoford dunk) like no one else, but he needs to go to a coaches clinic or something for those situations. Put some dang pressure on the ball (which UM kind of did by accident) — they need a three, so waving for people to “get back” is not helpful. –End rant—

  • Cliff Pappe

    Getting this win helps set us up for a nice start to the Big Ten season. The team should gain some confiedence with the next 3 opponents all being winnable games, before the match-up with Wisconsin.
    Is Mark Donnal not developed enought to get minutes? I know Max plays with energy and gets some rebounds, but at times when he is in the game I’m left scratching my head. His 3 point attempt had me doing that.

  • Chris De Sana

    Nice write up.

    Nik continues to impress as his all around game improves. Am I crazy or does he have a higher ceiling than Stephan Curry?

    Horford showed that he can do more than most expect, especially when he plays within himself meaning close to the rim on both ends of the court. I know I have said it before but I really think he can be a Rodman style player on the college level. That is getting rebounds, play good defense and provide positive energy.

    I have been very critical of Walton but he showed signs tonight of what he can become. Hoping that trajectory continues.

    Caris and GR3 have switch hearts. Caris now seems to be the one going through the motions while GR3 has really stepped it up. Hopefully he is back on the floor sooner than later.

    Irvin is showing he was worthy of all the accolades coming in and deserves more playing time, not just for his offense but he is also one of our better on the ball defenders.

    • robpollard

      ” Am I crazy or does he have a higher ceiling than Stephan Curry?”

      Yes, you are crazy! :) Do you think Nik is going to be second-team All-America this year? B/c that’s what Curry did as a sophomore. The next year he was a first-teamer. I will eat my non-existent hat if Nik matches that (as much as I’d love him to).

      Beyond that, Curry’s “ceiling” is awfully high. As an NBA player, he has a good shot at making the all-star team this year, averaging 23 pts a game. I mean, GSW just beat Miami last night behind his 36 pts.

      I hope Nik makes the NBA and is a 10-year contributor — I could definitely see that. But let’s not get carried away.

      • Chris De Sana

        You make good points for sure. Nik plays on a team with more options so takes fewer shots and has the ball in his hand less often. He also plays tougher comp day in and day out comparing Michigan’s schedule to Davidson’s.

        Both of which means his development may take longer.

        • Fred Z in Ann Arbor

          Yes, I think Nik will have a long career in the NBA. 6’6 guys who can shoot tend to find spots on the roster. The fact that he has a complete game may give him a shot to be a starter rather than a sub.

        • robpollard

          That’s true about Davidson’s conference, but remember, he lit up the NCAA tourney in a close to unprecedented fashion (off the top of my head, Glen Rice. Big Dog (aka GRIII’s dad) or Austin Carr are comparables.)

          He scored 30 pts against Gonzaga IN ONE HALF! Then he scored 30 against Georgetown, and then he lit up Wisconsin (who always is a defensive menace) for 33. I personally saw him score 20+ against Kansas.

          Nik had a nice game yesterday, but one of the real disappointments this year was how Duke completely engulfed him. Curry is/was at another level as a scorer than Nik, whether against weak conf opponents or big-time tourney opponents.

    • jturn14

      Yes,, you’re crazy for thinking he could be better than Stephen Curry. Now, if you had said his ceiling is higher than the other “Splash Brother”, Klay Thompson, I would have agreed .

  • Wayman Britt

    It’s good to get a win. UM had some key defensive stops late in the game, which they have not done in the preseason. It wasn’t pretty, but a road win is good.

    • mmmmFAZpizza

      I agree, In a way it is a HUGE win. This was the toughest of our first 4 B10 games and winning it gives us a great chance at going 4-0. From there on we can go .500 and be okay.

      We needed this!

  • Dr_ZC

    Worried about GR3’s injury. There was no clear cut replay to indicate a possible ankle sprain. JB’s statement is really vague. Let us hope that it is nothing serious.

    Walton showed some guts in the second half, but he still needs to execute and run the offense efficiently. His assists were textbook, but he is trying too hard to show he has a Burke component when he is driving to the basket.

    Nik does not get enough credit for what he does. He plays within himself and does not force shots. He sees the floor better than anybody, and does not miss a PNR opportunity.

    Caris had a forgettable evening. I think scouting is working well against him lately. Defenses are taking away his drives to the hoop with faster guards. In that case he needs to keep his head up and look for the free man going to the hoop.

    The only thing Irvin did not do, is get in a phone booth and change his shirt to Tim’s #10. He has to start driving to the basket, however, but he has an uncanny ability to elevate and create his own shot.

    Not sure what happened to Morgan. I thought he would get more playing time, especially with their guards driving and dishing, with Morgan setting up to take the charge.

  • CZGuy99

    Really good showing by Jon Horford. Pretty solid but not flashy and some timely buckets. Increased turnovers are troubling, especially the 4 by Caris LeVert. Tremendous defensive effort down the stretch.

  • GregGoBlue

    When Jordan Morgan is locked in, I think he has the potential to be a great player. The entire offensive possession where, I believe, he finished with the hook shot was masterfully executed and what I’d expect out of a 5th yr senior–patient, playing hard, knowing the offense–and was the best offensive possession of the year for him. I believe he took a charge as well on either the prior or the next defensive possession.

    The fact that JMo can play well in spurts but only when he is properly motivated, is disappointing but encouraging at the same time. Time is running out for JMo, and with McGary out for the season I hope he steps up to the form he was at at the beginning of the 2012-13 season when he played with purpose and conviction.

  • rlcBlue

    Jonathan Foster nailed it in the Opposition Q&A:

    “If Michigan had to pick a Big Ten team to play without McGary, it would probably be the Gophers. Elliot Eliason is a much better rim protector and rebounder since last season, but he isn’t much of a scoring threat. Oto Osenieks and Joey King have been playing power forward, but are really true small forwards playing out of position. However, the absence of McGary will likely neutralize what should have been a big advantage on the interior for Michigan.”

    Horford showed he’s capable of exploiting an opposition weakness in the post; this doesn’t mean he’s about to blossom into an all-conference center, but we can dream. None of the next three opponents are particularly strong in the middle, so hopefully he and Morgan will make hay while the sun shines.

  • Joel_C

    Great win outta the Big Ten gate. Should really start 4-0 now.

    • guestavo

      Nebraska will be just as tough