Michigan 73, Western Michigan 41

Submitted by Ace on December 4th, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

"They're just a better basketball team."

Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins was frank in the aftermath of his team's 73-41 loss to Michigan. Of course, he wasn't exactly going out on a limb; that reality was apparent to anyone who saw the game, at least after the first eight minutes.

At the 12:01 mark of the first half, Michigan held a slim 12-11 lead. It was an ugly opening stretch marred by nine total turnovers, six of those by WMU. Neither squad was in an offensive rhythm.

Then the Wolverines hit their stride, ripping off seven straight points—capped by a Trey Burke three-pointer—and the Broncos couldn't keep up. At halftime, the margin was 14 points, and Michigan's lead would grow as large as 37 before John Beilein called off the dogs late.

Leading the way was Burke, providing a steady hand at the point once again while his teammates found their stroke—he finished with a game-high 20 points (8-11 FGs) and dished out seven assists with zero turnovers. Following his lead, Michigan turned the ball over just seven times after the early going. On the other end, Western couldn't hold onto the ball, coughing it up 18 times total—their turnover rate hung around 40% for most of the game before settling at a still-ugly 29.3%.

Four Factors
  eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 56.9 15.8 30.0 19.0
Defense 31.1 29.3 27.8 46.7

Michigan's impressive shooting figure was bolstered by strong finishing inside from Jordan Morgan (8 pts., 4-6 FGs, 8 rebs.) and Mitch McGary (10 pts., 5-5 FGs, 3 rebs.), each the benificiary of slick passing by Burke, Nik Stauskas (4 ast.), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (3 ast.). McGary's passing, unfortunately, wasn't quite as nifty—the big freshman had four turnovers, including a baseball-style kickout that nearly beheaded a spectator in the second row.

Nik Stauskas rather shockingly missed two of his four free throws, as well as his first attempt from the field. Despite Western Michigan's efforts to deny him the ball—they refused to help off Stauskas—he drilled his other three long-distance attempts, getting off the schneid with a contested look as the shot clock expired. He finished with 11 points.

Hardaway (9 pts.) and Glenn Robinson III (7) each shot just 3-10 from the field. They found other ways to help the team, however—Hardaway with his passing, Robinson with five boards, including two on the offensive end.

Beilein continues to tinker with the lineup; tonight's tweak featured freshman Caris LeVert, who came off his redshirt against Bradley over the weekend, subbing in for Hardaway just 2 1/2 minutes into the contest. He'd play 13 minutes total, tallying his first collegiate points on a three from the top of the key late in the first half.

Matt Vogrich, on the other hand, played just three minutes. Beilein said postgame that LeVert has earned his spot in the rotation and the team was in favor of him playing. We'll see how the minutes shake out going forward; for now, it appears that LeVert has supplanted Vogrich.

LeVert led the team's chorus of "The Victors" after the game, though his vocal performance was only the second-most notable on the evening—during the first half, the Crisler Center jumbotron showed a video featuring McGary belting out a Justin Bieber song, to the delight of the crowd.

Asked about his affinity for Bieber after the game, McGary quipped, "he's a talented kid, and I like talented people." Luckily for McGary, he happens to be surrounded by them.



December 5th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

I know we are spoiled for talent this year, and I hope that trend continues.  If Vogrich is trying to find minutes, we must have a lot of tallent.  They have been fun to watch, and I cwould not have said that is the last, well, too long ago years. 

I know we are not supposed to play what if, but I do anyway.  I would have loved to have seen Smotrycz out there with Stauskas.  The problem would be getting them on the floor at the same time.  Wish him well though. 



Rusty Knuckles

December 5th, 2012 at 4:18 AM ^

LeVert must have been totally outplaying Vogrich in practice.  With all things being equal, you'd play the senior with experience over burning a redshirt for a 140 pound 5th freshman.  This leads me more to believe we will be playing a lot of 1-3-1 defense against better teams this year and thus need to utilize the arm length of LeVert.  I still predict Vogrich or McLimans nails a huge shot for us in a huge game this year.  Lookin' good.


December 5th, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

Levert has been set back a little bit by playing on the scout team all this time. I suspect by big10 season he will be in synch with the team. He is a very active and lengthy defender, can handle the ball well (how well will be tested against Arkansas), and has shown he can make 3s. Sounds good enough to me

Blue boy johnson

December 5th, 2012 at 8:06 AM ^

McGary must be ambidextrous. A couple games ago, Mitch attempted a 3/4 court shot and threw the ball with his right hand. An amazing feat, not many can throw a basketball that far with their off hand. Last night on the ball McGary rifled into the stands, he threw the ball right handed and had Verlander velocity on it. Impressive.

Mr. Yost

December 5th, 2012 at 9:02 AM ^

And not on purpose...but he's like a puppy, full of energy, doesn't quite know the world yet, always learning, a little clumbsy, 110mph whether it's good for him or bad. And there will be plenty of times when he messes up when you just laugh and say "ha, how did you even do that?"

If anyone was going to kick the Governor in the face, it was clearly going to be McGary.

Mr. Yost

December 5th, 2012 at 8:59 AM ^

I'm not sure too many teams can matchup with the chemistry and player roles that we through out on the floor.

We always have 2 scorers on the floor, usually 3. We always have 1 big man on the floor that doesn't need the ball, sometimes 2.

Unless you're Kentucky and can just roll out 5 guys ranked in the ESPNU Top 25...you have to have some form of chemistry and have guys comfortable in a role. And even UK (and Memphis in previous Coach Cal years) struggled with this despite a ton of talent. It took Anthony Davis, an unselfish player and a senior in Miller to come off the bench and play defense and hit big 3's for them to do what they did...they even had role players.

I look at Duke and Indiana as teams that present similar problems. But there aren't many other teams that can play like we're going to play.

Take away Burke - which teams have been trying like hell to do. Stauskas and Hardaway will make you pay. AND we have a 6'6 freshman in GRIII that will give you buckets if you forget about him.

Take away THJ - Burke will do what he did last year.

Go Zone - LOL @ U

Go Man - Coach B will run set plays and destroy you over time

I just don't see this team losing to teams it shouldn't. Certainly IU, MSU, OSU, etc. will be tough and it's difficult to win on the road in the B1G, but we just have so many looks.

We have enough talent and chemistry to keep it close until we figure out how to beat you. It's never a comeback type situation...it's a 22-21 game and then a 43-31 game. The thing I liked about this WMU game is we took that 43-31 game and make it a 56-35 type game then 67-39 type game. In the past we would get up 10 and coast to a 10 point victory.


December 5th, 2012 at 9:48 AM ^

Goes to show how recruiting in a system is so successful.  Not sure Kentucky recruits for a system they just offer 5-stars and work around talent.  Beilein takes guys that he knows will fit his system- so they come here and play the type of ball they like and fit in well.  I think it is also why guys "overachieve" expectations at UM- because the system/chemistry allows guys to reach their full potential.


December 5th, 2012 at 9:39 AM ^

What more can be said about Burke?  Michigan was the more talented team, but Burke was a operating at a higher level than everyone on that court.  It's a joy to watch.


December 5th, 2012 at 9:59 AM ^

I have said since before the season started that we are watching the best basketball team in the country play right now.  I like our squad and our staff better than Indiana's, Duke's or anybody else you'd care to compare us to.  And every game they play solidify's that sentiment in my mind even more.

I still believe before the year is over (but I really hope WHEN the year is over) Michigan will be ranked #1 in the polls.  These guys rock.