Game 17: Michigan at Wisconsin Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 77, Wisconsin 70. Photo Gallery. Player reaction (video). Beilein presser (video). Bo Ryan presser (video).

Michigan doesn’t have Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Mitch McGary, but it has Nik Stauskas.

On Saturday, Stauskas did what Michigan’s best players before him couldn’t, he walked out of the Kohl Center with a victory.

Michigan hadn’t won in Madison since 1999 and finally was able to close out a victory. The game showed all of the same signs of recent Wolverine collapses at Wisconsin. Michigan was held scoreless from 8:06 to 3:26, watching a 13 point lead disintegrate into a one possession game in a flash. But Nik Stauskas came through in the stretch, scoring the Wolverines’ final 11 points of the game.

John Beilein has called the 6-foot-6 Canadian’s number in winning time for most of the season and he answered the call again. Up one point with under a minute to play, Stauskas took the ball, dribbled between his legs, stepped back and buried a three over Nigel Hayes. Ball game.

Stauskas iced the game out at the free throw line as the Wolverines held onto a 77-70 victory.  Wisconsin is the highest ranked team that Michigan has beaten on the road in program history. The last time the Wolverines beat a top-five team on the road was in 1964 – when Cazzie Russell was a freshman – and this was easily Michigan’s most impressive road win since January 27th, 2011 at the Breslin Center.


Michigan’s offense was nearly unstoppable for the first 30 minutes of the game. Despite a four minute scoring drought late in the second half, the Wolverines tallied 1.15 points per trip, on the road against a top-five opponent. This offense – leading the Big Ten at 1.19 points per trip – is legitimate, even if there are new faces carrying the load.

Wisconsin had no answer for Michigan’s side ball screen and dribble hand off action. Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas combined to score 43 points and handed out eight assists, the majority of which came from the same set. The Badgers played with a soft hedge and let Michigan’s wings operate in the middle of the floor, giving the Wolverines the 16-foot jump shot. There was no secret to Michigan’s success, the Wolverines did what they always do and Wisconsin couldn’t stop them.

Stauskas, LeVert, Robinson and Irvin all scored off the high ball screen while Morgan and Horford finished effectively (6-of-6) on rolls to the basket. Wisconsin dared LeVert and Stauskas to beat them, they did.

The Wolverines still have some defensive issues to correct, but their performance wasn’t awful. The Badgers scored 1.05 points per possession which is a better defensive effort than Michigan’s last two outings (against far worse offenses). More importantly it was Wisconsin’s worst offensive effort since December 4th against Virginia. There were occasional breakdowns, but the Wolverines controlled the defensive glass, forced a few critical turnovers and held Wisconsin to 46% shooting inside the arc.

Michigan’s defense buckled down to open the second half, and was the primary reason that Michigan was able to stretch its lead to 15 points. The Wolverines held the Badgers to just seven points in the first 13 possessions of the second half. That turned out to be just enough to win, but the Badgers went on to score 25 points in the final 18 possessions of the half.

This was Michigan’s third Big Ten road win in three tries, an impressive feat considering that last year’s team  won just four games on the road in the Big Ten. Michigan is now up to 13th nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings and should be flying high, tied for first in the conference, going into a very difficult week with a home game against Iowa and a road trip to East Lansing.

Michigan Wisconsin-16Michigan Wisconsin-10Michigan Wisconsin-11
Ball Screens — Chris Smith

Player Bullets

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas is the most complete offensive player in the Big Ten. He finished with 23 points on 7-of-17 shooting (3-9 3pt), four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, two turnovers and a steal. Not to mention he scored Michigan’s final 11 points of the game to ice it. Stauskas is masterful with the ball screen and can score from anywhere on the floor. He missed a couple threes that would have helped Michigan pull away earlier, but he came through when it counted.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert played his best game of the season for Michigan. Most importantly, he played well on both ends. LeVert finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting (3-3 3pt) with 7 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four turnovers in 38 minutes. Yes, he made three poor plays in a row offensively when Wisconsin was coming back, but he also had back to back baskets around the 8 minute mark to quell an earlier Wisconsin run. LeVert has improved and will continue to improve if he can eliminate two or three mistakes per game.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson’s 16-foot jumper is a thing of beauty. If there’s more of a ‘pro shot’ than that one, I’m waiting to see it. Robinson was 6-of-8 from the floor and every shot he took was in one his comfort zones: an elbow jumper, at the rim, or facing up on the opposite post. A goose egg in the rebounding column is disappointing, but Robinson’s offensive development over the last month has been impressive. Michigan loves to run new wrinkles for Robinson early in halves, in the second half Beilein dialed up a little ball screen for Robinson to get him an open jumper.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton finished with 2 points, two assists, and two rebounds in 31 minutes but I thought he played within himself. His one make was a great finish in traffic and he didn’t turn the ball over. He also played impressive defense in the post against Wisconsin’s experienced and physical guards. Bad news: this is the second  third time he’s missed at the line late in a game.
  • Jordan Morgan: Make layups, defend and rebound. That’s all Michigan needs Morgan and Horford to do for 40 minutes. They’ve done a hell of a job at it. Morgan and Horford are a combined 36 of 44 on 2-point attempts (82%) in Big Ten games with eight turnovers. They were each 3-of-3 today and combined for 15 rebounds and five blocks. Morgan had a put back, a tough catch around the rim and Michigan couldn’t have asked for much more from its big man duo.
  • Jon Horford: Horford, like Morgan, had another strong performance. He had a great offensive play in the second half, catching the ball, pump faking, taking a Badger defender on the block and finishing over him. Horford is playing with the sort of confidence that it’s not even a huge surprise when he makes a shot like that – something we wouldn’t have said a month ago.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht never lacks confidence and he came off the bench firing, knocking down an open triple in the first half. He also had a steal and fast break that resulted in a point at the free throw line, but Michigan seemed to lose a step defensively when he was in the game.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin played like a freshman on the road. He was late closing out on a few shooters and didn’t have the best defensive game. However, he knocked down a great jumper off of a ball screen in the second half without hesitation.
  • countourzealous

    Great win for this team, which should give them some momentum going into the next two games.

  • Dr_ZC

    Last time I posted, I said (and you can check), that Michigan wins with a long 3 at the buzzer. Not quite the case, but pretty close. Nic’s three was the last Michigan field goal, and it was a dagger. Feels good to give Wisky a shot of their own medicine.

  • kam

    “more pro shot then glenns 16 footer I’m waiting to see it”… NIks between the leg step back over a 4 man is a all star pro shot! You rarely see anyone be able to make those shots. But Glenn is playing really well haha just had to say that

    • True.

    • mikey_mac

      You’re probably right, especially if Stauskas can operate similarly in the lane off PNR, but GRIII knocking down the same jumper back-to-back off pin-downs is exactly what pro scouts want to see out of him.

      • Yep, and he’s been hitting those consistently lately. Really struggled with that shot early this season.

        • kam

          im glad too.. He can elevate so high its basically unguardable!

          • mikey_mac

            Hitting them over Dekker is also important, because Dekker is actually a prototypical NBA 3, in my mind. Both of their games are very impressive.

          • kam

            i agree. I’m a big fan of Dekker.. Glenn played well matched up against another pro player

          • mikey_mac

            Defensively, he’s been able to been able to play Gordon, Parker and Dekker well enough to limit their contributions below season average, even when undersized in comparison. Those are all first-round picks, at 3/stretch 4. At this point, anyone with any doubts about what level GRIII plays at next year need to reckon.

          • Northern Blue

            Really like Dekker and expect him to be a solid pro. Glenn showed his defensive game big time in this one. Sam got nothing easy, made a few nice plays, but Glenn did a good job on him and forced him into tough ones and held him below his averages.

  • kam

    Great win! I think we can pull out a win against IOWA.. if so that would be amazing. The bigs have really stepped it up.. Its great to have 3 guys play great offensively in a BIG GAME.. Nik, caris and glenn.. Last year it was Burke maybe Tim and really no one else during BIG Ten play. Keep improving the Defense and we will be good to go!

  • kam

    And my last post.. Its crazy a few weeks ago there was a major discussion if Irvin should start.. since that game he’s really fell of and struggles to find minutes.. Its almost as if Nik, Caris and glenn are all playing solid or above he only gets a few minutes to give the breaks. If he’s on fire or theyre struggling He gets minutes but if neither happens he gets like 8 minutes.

    • mikey_mac

      If Irvin were clearly a defensive upgrade, he would certainly see more minutes, but as Dylan mentioned, his team defense is just inexperienced enough that he’s not going to crack a crunch-time lineup except when JB wants GRIII at the 5.

      • kam

        He also is extremely on and off in terms of offense.. there will be games he makes impacts and others he wont.. Next year he will probably have a much bigger role, but with 3 very good wings in NIK, glenn and caris its hard to find room

        • mikey_mac

          Yeah, it’s just hard to find those minutes on this team for Irvin to grow the way Walton has been allowed to. I think Irvin has more upside.

          • Good thing is that, LeVert proves that this staff can develop someone who doesn’t get a lot of playing time. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Irvin makes a similar leap.

          • kam

            I agree.. He will be very deadly when he adds a pull up Jumper.. and caris wouldnt shock me if he got even better next year.. adding 10 more pounds in the offseason will help a ton!

          • mikey_mac

            As long as Walton can start guarding PGs and let LeVert handle players his own size! I know LeVert is better defensively right now, but it’s only in a relative sense. Quick PGs are the easiest way to break down this team’s defense.

          • kam

            i feel like walton can become a very good defender. quick feet, very quick hands and athletic! just may take year of learning

          • mikey_mac

            Absolutely. The skills are there. His eagerness has been to his detriment so far, though. Still waiting for the game to slow down for him. Offense is almost always the first to come around, and we’ve seen definite signs there.

          • mikey_mac

            And for the first time, I was actually bothered that JB replaced Walton with Spike in the second-to-last defensive possession. I think Walton is getting there.
            Fortunately, JB saw it my way and put in Walton for the last possession.

          • ChathaM

            That sub threw me as well. Maybe Spike went in there because, even though he’s the inferior defender, the UW possession wouldn’t put them ahead, and we were anticipating a score-then-foul sequence without wanting to use a timeout to sub.

          • Northern Blue

            He has his moments on defence where he really moves his feet and stays in front of his man when they are really challenging him one on one. Definitely shows his potential in this area. Thought he had a couple really good possessions last night.

          • mikey_mac

            This team seems destined to be chronically young while JB is coach, but it’s patently insane to doubt his ability to turn around a roster and develop talent at this point. Looking forward to Irvin with a handle.

    • Chris De Sana

      I was of the same mind set and not sure if I have changed my mind as much as you or not as I see his play on both ends closely tied to playing time. It needs to be noted that Walton only really plays the point on defense as Nik and Caris have taken over most of the ball handling when he is in the game.

      I also agree with most below that Walton does have the skills to be a far better defensive player, in fact maybe even an excellent one.

  • mikey_mac

    I’m really not sure enough can be said about Stauskas’ offensive game. Dekker made one “wow” play off PNR, but Stauskas ran the clinic tonight, save maybe one too-fancy pocket pass that went for a turnover.

  • Champswest

    Great recap, Dylan. By my count, that is at least the third game that Walton has missed late game free throws. Our bigs were solid again tonight. I like how the team came out poised and confident right from the start. They acted like it was a home game.

    • I was thinking Nebraska and Wisconsin, did he miss a couple at Minnesota as well?

      Edit: Just checked, yep he did.

      • kam

        yes he did i think

        • mikey_mac

          Two in a row, up three.

          • kam

            yup. cant have that

      • ZRL

        I think he missed one late in ot against fsu too…

    • kam

      late game Fts just need to go to NIK or spike.. although caris is shooting a very solid 79%.. I think we need to inbounds with caris and get the ball to NIK or Spike

      • Caris and Nik have both been around 80%. I worry about Spike because he’s only shot 8 FTs all year (missed 1 today).

        • kam

          you’re correct.. both shooting 79%

    • Chris De Sana

      I would like to see what GR3 FT % is late in the game, if memory serves me correctly he has been excellent as well.

  • mikey_mac

    Props to Dylan for putting together an objective recap so quickly after this one. I’m still half-convinced Horford is second-team all-B1G for rebounding over Dekker and Kaminsky repeatedly with food poisoning.

  • mikey_mac

    I wonder how much effect the new rules had on this game and this UW team. I prefer to think of Ryan as a coach who can only teach one system of grab-ass defense, and no other, and the rule changes really played to our advantage tonight, but I just don’t know how true that really is. In any case, UW, either by personnel or rules, really looked defanged tonight.

    • $584645

      Very few fouls called this game. Well-reffed game for the most part.

  • Alex

    Great game. Just extremely proud. This is the biggest victory of the season for any team to date. Thank you.

  • Chris

    in Walton’s defense on the free throws, he was just tackled to the floor and seemed to hurt his shooting arm. anyway, great win!

  • Wayman Britt

    Great win, UM played very good, but remember don’t get too high over one win lots of season left.

  • Champswest

    What happened to home court advantage Saturday? The favorite, MSU won big on the road. Two underdogs, UM and NU won by 7 and Purdue had to make a last second free throw to beat win less PSU at home. Crazy day.

  • Chris De Sana

    Another well written recap, well done.

    Love everything Nik brings but does need to take it easy on the fancy passes in the lane, he got bailed out twice by Wisc fumbling the ball out of bounds.

    I am developing a love hate relationship with Caris, just when I think I was crazy asking for him to handle the ball more he comes up with a big game. Yes he needs to cut down on the silly TO’s but yesterday he really stepped up.

    Agree GR3 is really coming around as coach is finding ways to get him the ball in places that best suit his high level mid range game.

    Walton has essentially moved to the wing on offense with Nik and Caris doing the bulk of the ball handling. His continued development has been fun to watch.

    JMo has really stepped up if he can stay the course our future looks far better than we first would have thought when Mitch went down.

    I know some find it strange but I continue to see Horford as Michigan’s version of Dennis Rodman, hopefully without rehab and pro North Korean rants. Ha!

    Irvin needs more minutes, problem is with this line up it is hard to find enough for both he and Walton.

    • countourzealous

      The Horford-Rodman comparison is hilarious. I can’t unsee it now.

      • Chris De Sana

        Look at the way Horford runs, you have to admit it is Rodman like.

  • gobluemd16

    Such a great win, so proud of this team and fighting back after that run. Wire to wire victory on the road in Wisconsin is really, really impressive. However, this is really all that needs to be said from me:
    After the game last night we have the 3rd most efficient offense in the country. That is after losing our point guard and national player of the year, another first round pick, and a preseason All-American and our best low post player. John Beilein is simply an amazing coach. Add that to the fact that nobody on this team made any excuses when Mitch went down, and everyone stepped up, makes Michigan so special. I will root for these guys no matter how they perform

    • ChathaM

      The offensive efficiency is so impressive. We’ve seen this team defended a number of different ways so far, and they consistently get good looks. New wrinkles continue to be added to the offence. I’ve reached the point where I feel like we’re going to get good looks against whoever we play.

    • Champswest

      Dakich made the comment last night that Beilein wouldn’t talk about McGary or make excuses, while other coaches talk about how beat up they are or this guy is sick, etc. made me think about Izzo

  • ChathaM

    That game reminded me of last season’s win at Minnesota, where we controlled the game throughout, but things still got a little hairy towards the end. It was a great win. The development of the team, given the adversity they’ve faced, has been impressive.

    There’s a difference between conceding a team open looks, and forcing them to shoot challenged shots from certain areas/ranges. I get that UW wanted to take away the rim, but they consistently failed to even challenge the mid range shots that we were getting. That’s a big difference between this year’s UW team and previous versions. In past seasons, you could go stretches of 5 and 6 possessions without a truly open look. This was completely different. There were also times when neither the primary defender nor the hedge got a hand in a 3-point shooter’s face. Stauskas, in particular, hasn’t seen that many open looks off of halfcourt sets in a long time. In the first half, it seemed like Nik was anticipating help stepping out stronger in the key, and passing up what would have been open 10 footers. It was just a very soft defensive performance by UW. Maybe that was the game plan, though, and Ryan’s right that you won’t often see that strong of a jump shooting night from a team.

    As a team that doesn’t rely on dribble penetration, UW was a very good matchup for us defensively. What they do doesn’t play to our weakness defensively. But, I still thought that there was progress in that game. We closed out on their shooters much better in the 2nd half. Gasser had the wide open transition 3 in the 2nd half, but the halfcourt defence was as disciplined as we’ve seen it. Brust and Gasser were forced out of their comfort zones just a little bit in the 2nd half, and their shot selection really suffered.

    Caris’ occasional overdribbling drives me crazy, but he did have a solid shooting day, which we needed to win that game. His defence was great yesterday.

    Did Robinson even touch the ball in the last 6-7 minutes of the game?

    I was hoping for one win from the UW-Iowa-MSU stretch. I can’t wait to get to Crisler on Wednesday for the Iowa game.

    • kam

      Yes glenn touched the ball but he passed the ball right back to NIK or Caris.. They couldn’t stop the pick and roll with those two, so i guess he just gave it to them to run.. Glenn is a true team player even though he’s extremely talented..Seems to worry more about the team more than what NBA scouts think!