By Colleen Thomas, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 3, 2013
BLOOMINGTON — Just like in Columbus, the freshmen disappeared.
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Guard Nik Stauskas and forward Glenn Robinson III were silenced for almost the entirety of the primetime matchup between No. 1 Michigan and No. 3 Indiana. The duo that normally averages 24 combined points per game was held to just 12 points — 10 of which came in the last half of the second stanza.
The record-setting decibel levels in Assembly Hall got to the freshmen early, as did a similar raucous crowd did in Columbus.
“This is a young team and these environments are tremendous opportunities for them to grow,” said Michigan coach John Beilein.
The noise seemed to get to Stauskas early, as the guard missed three easy layups and couldn’t hit a 3-pointer until the last 30 seconds of the game. Stauskas went 3-for-10 from the field and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.
For Stauskas, a low 3-point shooting percentage has been a trend in Big Ten games. He’s shooting just 36 percent from beyond the arc during conference play, compared to his 48 percent on the year, and is getting targeted by opponents’ defenses to limit his impact.
Against Ohio State, Stauskas attempted only three shots, all from deep, and missed them all. The Buckeyes were obviously targeting the sharpshooter — and it worked. Against Indiana on Saturday, Jordan Hulls was tasked with defending Stauskas. Though the freshman hit three free throws to tie the game at 40 early in the second half, the Hoosiers’ defense contained him until late in the game, when his 10 points didn’t matter much.
Like Stauskas, Robinson was hounded by the defense most of the night — he was guarded by Victor Oladipo for the majority of the game — and despite playing all 40 minutes, he rarely found the ball or an open look.
The forward had four rebounds — just 1.7 below his season average — but his presence on the boards was hardly felt throughout the game. Robinson was also held to just two points, which came in the form of a dunk with 1:09 left to play in the game. By that point, Michigan’s fate was all but sealed.
“(The Hoosiers), they hugged the rails (Saturday), and kind of made us win the game just from the point guard and the center position,” said sophomore guard Trey Burke. “We have to continue to try to get (Stauskas and Robinson) good looks within our offense. Indiana did a good job denying them, and it was tough to get them the ball.”
But for every missed basket by Stauskas and Robinson on Saturday, there was a rebound or steal from forward Mitch McGary.
With redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan limited again — he played just two minutes, and redshirt sophomore forward Jon Horford started in his place for the second consecutive game — McGary was again able to step up.
The freshman played a season-high 28 minutes and tied a career best with 10 points. McGary’s offensive production isn’t usually his strong suit, but his scoring and defensive presence were the biggest aspects of his performance on Saturday.
Though Indiana’s Cody Zeller was able to put up 19 points, McGary did a good job holding Zeller to tougher shots and was able to be more physical with the Hoosier sophomore. He also got a couple of steals off Zeller, but one area McGary wasn’t happy with in his game was Zeller’s second-chance points.
“I think we did a good job defensively,” McGary said. “(Zeller) didn’t get too many easy buckets, but offensive rebounding, I made a few mistakes boxing him out while I was trying to help or block a shot, and he got some easy buckets there.”
McGary also pulled down seven rebounds and was able to keep up with Zeller on the glass, which proved that the freshman is continuing to improve his all-around game, much to the pleasure of his coach.
“(McGary) certainly did (take another step forward),” Beilein said. “He was making some big inputs in there. He has to continue to learn how to use his body at the right angles to guard in the post, but he has a real good sense for stealing the ball. I just liked the way Mitch was playing in there.”