Michigan wins conference home opener over Northwestern
Michigan picked up its 10th win of the season, and improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference on Sunday afternoon with a 74-51 win over Northwestern at home.
The first half was relatively close with the Wolverines heading into the break with a 31-24 led. The Wildcats got 13 of their 24 points from Drew Crawford; the rest of Northwestern shot 5-of-15 with five turnovers.
In the second half, Nik Stauksas -- who continues to debunk the idea that he’s just a shooter -- was able to limit Crawford’s production on the offensive end, shooting 1-of-6 for four points. His only field goal of the half came with 3:05 remaining and the game in hand for Michigan. Crawford ended with 17 points. Stauskas had a game-high 18.
On the offensive end, Michigan was able to get out and run for easy buckets, which it had done on a few occasions in the the first half. Michigan is without preseason All-American Mitch McGary, who is reportedly going in for back surgery on Tuesday. Despite the loss of McGary, big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford provided production at the center position, combining for 15 points, 16 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Morgan scored all of his eight points in the first half, but did more that Michigan offense. He put forth effort, diving for loose balls, running the floor in transition and beating the Northwestern bigs down the floor. He also ran some pick-and-rolls, and helped free up for Caris LeVert for Michigan’s only 3-pointer of the first half, when he cut toward the rim, drawing an additional defender. Spike Albrecht made a cross-court pass to LeVert in the corner, who drilled the triple. That put Michigan up seven, part of a 9-3 run.
McGary out indefinitely is a tough blow for a Michigan. It’s important that Morgan and Horford put forth combined efforts like the one on Saturday. Moving forward the duo will go up against much better frontlines. Michigan should come away with two more wins against Nebraska and Penn State before a three-game slate at No. 4 Wisconsin, at home against No. 22 Iowa and in East Lansing against No. 5 Michigan State.