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.
- 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.