Nik Stauskas

Michigan uses big second half to take first place in Big Ten over rival Michigan State

2 Comments

With time winding down in the first half, Caris LeVert launched a 3-pointer from the corner and drained it as the buzzer sounded. As soon as he released it, LeVert turned and darted to the Michigan locker room. He knew it was good, cutting the halftime lead 36-34.

LeVert scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half to kept Michigan afloat through the first half, but in the second half Nik Stauskas broke out of a scoring slump, scoring 21 of his game-high 25 after halftime. The Michigan offense did what it wanted to do against the Michigan State defense in the last 20 minutes, outscoring the Spartans 45-34 in the second half en route to a huge 79-70 win at home on Sunday afternoon.

Michigan moves in to first place in the Big Ten standings, only a half a game against of Michigan State. However, the Wolverines have now taken both games this season from its in-state rival.

In his previous five games, Stauskas was scoring just 10.2 points per game, more than six points below his season average. Michigan had split its last two games entering Sunday, with Stauskas scoring 26 points of 8-of-20 shooting in combined matchups with Ohio State and Wisconsin. Against Sparty, he was 9-of-13 for his 25 points, the most points he’s scored since Jan. 22 in a win over Iowa.

The rest of the way, U-M faces four teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Michigan State still has games remaining against No. 15 Iowa and No. 24 Ohio State.

Michigan State is still dealing with injuries, most notably Keith Appling, although he’s been in the lineup for the past three games. He’s taken only five shots in those three contests, not scoring his first bucket until 1:30 remaining in the game on Sunday afternoon.

With Appling still plagued by his wrist, the Michigan State offense committed 13 turnovers to Michigan’s three. Luckily for the Spartans, they have six days off before Saturday’s game against Illinois.

Michigan hits the road to face Purdue on Wednesday.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Leave a comment

The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Leave a comment

With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.