NCAA 2014: Michigan vs. Wofford Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
Michigan 57, Wofford 40-4

Michigan 57, Wofford 40. Photo Gallery. Video Reactions. Press Conference. Box Score. Photo: Dustin Johnston

It took 30 minutes for Wofford to make a three-pointer.

Wofford star Karl Cochran hit the shot with 9:35 to play in the second half and cut Michigan’s lead to seven points. A sloppy, but otherwise uneventful game between Michigan and Wofford suddenly showed signs of March. The shot sparked life into a pro-Wisconsin crowd that had been mostly content to watch in silence.

The Wolverines had controlled the game from the opening tip, but were never dominant. In the first half, foolish turnovers kept the Terriers close. In the second half, Michigan went cold from the field. Wofford didn’t play close to its best game, but it was right there with under ten minutes to play.

Michigan responded to Cochran’s shot, outscoring the Terriers 17-7 over the final 9:25. Jordan Morgan finished an and one layup before Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton hit back-to-back threes to ice the game away. The Wolverines would go on to win comfortably by 17 points in a 56 possession game.

But Cochran’s three, the only one that Wofford made in 19 attempts, showed what could have been. The Terriers were disciplined, slowed down the game and defended Michigan better than most have managed this season. But the perimeter shots never fell and Michigan is moving on to face Texas on Saturday.


Michigan’s offense only managed 1.03 points per possession, its worst offensive output in a winning effort this season. In the first half, the Wolverines couldn’t hold onto the ball, coughing it up on 26% of their possessions. The Wolverines fixed the turnover issues, but lost their jump shot at halftime. Michigan shot just 31% on twos and 36% on threes in the second half after shooting 69% on twos and 50% on threes in the opening 20 minutes. The Wolverines gave the ball away on 20% of their possessions and six different players had at least one turnover.

This was Michigan’s second best defensive performance of the season (only topped by holding UMass-Lowell to .69 PPP) and it was Wofford’s worst offensive performance of the season. Michigan looked well-prepared for Wofford’s offensive sets and stifled Terrier star Karl Cochran. The Wolverines switched the right screens, banking on the fact that Wofford’s supporting stars couldn’t pick up the slack, and the gamble paid off. Wofford’s starting guards were just 10-of-31 from the floor (1-13 from 3) and their teammates weren’t much better at 8-of-23. Michigan rebounded 76% of Wofford’s misses, kept the Terriers off the line, but could couldn’t force many turnovers.

Michigan’s defense showed improvement, but the Terriers just couldn’t make a shot. Wofford shot a respectable 50% on two-point attempts and if it managed its season average of 35% from three-point range this would have been a different game.

Survive and advance is the mantra in March and Michigan managed to do just that. The Wolverines didn’t near their top-gear against Wofford, but they’ll need it on Saturday if they want to play in Indianapolis next weekend.

Michigan 57, Wofford 40-15
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan had a 10 point, 10 rebound double-double in 29 minutes of playing time. He was 4-of-6 from the field including a nice jumper from the free throw line. He was very active in the paint and gave Michigan just a bit of everything they needed, including arguably the biggest basket of the game – his and-one layup to put Michigan back up 10.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton finished with 6 points, five assists, two turnovers and two steals in 31 minutes. It was Walton, not LeVert that was tasked with chasing Karl Cochran off the ball and he seemed to do a pretty good job. Cochran had to work for everything he got (17 points on 21 attempts and 0 FTA) and Walton deserves a lot of credit. Offensively he had some great passes, but I thought he could have been more aggressive looking for his offense.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Wofford dared Robinson to shoot and he did, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Robinson was 5-of-8 in the first half and the early makes turned out to be a bit of a curse because they didn’t fall in the second where he was just 1-of-6 from the floor.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas couldn’t miss in the first half and seemed like he wasn’t aggressive enough looking for his shot. Then in the second half he was a bit more aggressive, but couldn’t hit anything. Stauskas still finished with an efficient 15 points on 5-of-9 (3-6 3pt) shooting, but he had 3 turnovers to 1 assist.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert looked a bit out of control from the opening tip. He knocked down an early pull-up jumper, but struggled for the middle 30 minutes of the game. He was forcing his offense in the lane and threw up a couple of wild spinning shots attacking the basket. His other made shot put Michigan up 15 with 4:19 to play and iced the game away for the Wolverines.
  • Jon Horford: Horford was active offensively (2-3 fg) with 4 points, three rebounds and two steals in 11 minutes. He still struggled a bit on the defensive end, but he had a nice reverse finish and a dunk in the second half to stop a Wofford run.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht notched one assist in eight minutes of playing time, but the drop-off from Walton to Albrecht defensive was pretty clear against Cochran.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin was just 1-of-5 from the floor and missed all four three-point attempts. He had a very quick trigger and probably could have done without one or two attempts that were either rushed or too deep, but he’s in the game to shoot.
  • ChathaM

    Wofford is a very well coached team. They’re undersized, but they run great offensive sets with a ton of motion, and play disciplined defence. Still, as Dylan said, if Wofford makes a few of those open first half shots, this game could have been a nail-biter.

    Our defence was pretty disciplined, which truly was the key to the win. There wasn’t a lot of gambling, and I thought that Stauskas had a particularly good defensive game. He’s gotten much better at “walling up” with his chest when his man tries to score over him. Robinson also gets a lot of credit for his solid post defence tonight.

    I was really upset about the two charge calls on Stauskas. Both of those plays were good examples of this year’s new interpretation, and both were consistently called blocks all season, across the country. I can understand Beilein’s frustration with the rule; inconsistent application is tough to watch, especially when it goes against your team. Except for those two plays and the clear 5 second call that was missed on the Wofford post player in the 2nd half (I replayed it and counted 6 and a half), I thought it was a well called game.

    I feel better about the Texas matchup than I’d have felt about Arizona State. I wouldn’t have looked forward to having to chase Carson all over the floor, and Bachynski’s length could have given us fits. I was picturing a lot of dribble penetration and some foul trouble for our bigs, then a lot of 1-3-1 zone to try to compensate. Texas seems a bit more traditional in their approach, and probably a bit easier to game plan than ASU.

    • countourzealous

      Obligatory confession: I was working during most of this game, but I caught as much as I could.

      Coming into this game, I wanted to see how we would respond. Not only against the MSU loss, but in response to the NCAA tournament itself. This was a solid win over a well-coached squad whom came to us with everything they had to offer. We’re facing Texas now, and I honestly do not know much about their squad. Props to Wofford for playing their hearts’ out.

      This region, socalled the “Region of Death”, may also be the most unpredictable. Let’s see if this Wolverine team can rise above the chaos.

      GO BLUE

      • ChathaM

        Yep, Mercer over Duke definitely qualifies as unpredictable. Wow.

    • Truth

      Yeah that 5-second non-call was ridiculous; refs gently sided with Wofford in this game but ultimately did not affect the outcome.

      More thoughts:

      – The crowd seemed to be against Michigan, despite the midwestern locale. Wasn’t sure what all the red in the crowd was, but assumed it was either ASU folks (weird) or Wisconsin trolls.

      – Also thought Walton was fouled hard in the backcourt when he got stripped and knocked on his back. Doesn’t bother me against “plucky” Wofford but the refs better call that stuff going forward.

      – Play of the game for me was early on when Morgan drove the ball hard to the hoop a la McGary. If they leave you open, you take it.

      – Was bummed that Delaware couldn’t finish the job against State.

  • robpollard

    That game, even though I never felt it was in doubt (even when they briefly) cut it to seven, was awful to watch. Even when U of M shot near lights out in the first half, you used the proper word — they were “foolish” with the basketball and seemed also be more sloppy (I hesitate to use the word ‘lazy’ b/c I can’t see that from this team) than usual on defense and with loose balls (against an opponent of this caliber). Wofford didn’t have a lot of open shots, but even when they did they missed them — often badly. I can’t recall more out & out bricks from a UM opponent.

    Morgan was the star of the game. Nik seemed thrown by those awful charge calls, but he put the game effectively out of reach, along with GRIII in the first half. Levert was out of control and high risk/reward (frequently getting lost on screens but also had a few steals), so hopefully he’s got that type of game out his system. We”ll also need more from Walton and Irvin.

    On to Texas. We should get a win, if we play well.

  • countourzealous

    “The Wolverines had controlled the game from the opening tip, but were never dominant. In the first half, foolish turnovers kept the Terriers close.”

    Great writeup, Dylan. I couldn’t have said it any better.

  • jakerblue

    What was the foul on the Morgan/stauskas dribble hand-off. That’s a rule I’m unfamiliar with.

    • ChathaM

      Illegal screen on Morgan, although I replayed it, and didn’t see much of anything. I think the foul count at the time was 5-1 in our favour, and the official may have been looking to find a foul on that play.

      • jakerblue

        Got it, I didn’t see anything that looked like an illegal screen so I assumed there was some obscure rule I didn’t know about. Morgan didn’t budge until after the ref blew the whistle. Probably right about the looking for a foul to call.

      • robpollard

        I literally looked at that in slow motion. There was no foul. I’ve seen much, much worse not get called. Morgan actually stayed put and didn’t even lean into the guy.

        I think it was a) Morgan’s quick movement (often players come out those picks a bit slower, so perhaps the ref was startled) or b) Jordan Morgan’s Foul Collection System (patent pending) firing up again, giving him at least one foul a game where you are like, what?

  • Dr_ZC

    My concern on this game was the number of the “unforced” turnovers we had. Rebounds we could easily get, let them bounce away. Missed a few easy boxouts, made some lazy passes totally off target. Another trend I see of late, is that we tend to avoid the extra pass to find the open man. On the fast break, we rarely dish for the easy assist, missing layups instead. And Nik tends to disappear from the action. I loved our defense, however.

  • gobluemd16

    Honestly, the defense improved, but I don’t think it was really anything notable and something that we could expect to really carry over during our future game(s). Wofford straight up bricked a bunch of open threes and looks that better teams would make. We were definitely more sound and gave up less easy baskets, but many other teams would have scored a LOT more than 40 points given the quality of looks they were getting. I don’t think we will be that careless and shoot as poorly in the future, but I also think it is foolish to think our defense just miraculously improved. I expect a high scoring game against Texas, where we need our offense to carry us if we get a win.

    • gobluemd16

      I also thought Nik should have shot the ball a lot more and been more aggressive. I guess he didn’t really HAVE to, but great things happen when he is attacking. I didn’t think Caris played a good game and he kind of looked out of it at times. I am sure that was just me, but he didn’t seem all the way tuned in. I thought JMo and Glenn played particularly well, and were active on both ends.