Michigan-Florida St. Preview
Coach John Beilein is trying to ease Mitch McGary back into his role as one of Michigan's top contributors after the sophomore standout was sidelined with an injury to start the season.
Beilein might need his preseason All-American a bit more Friday in order for the 14th-ranked Wolverines to avoid a letdown in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against upset-minded Florida State.
McGary's impressive performances in the NCAA tournament during Michigan's run to the national championship game last season led to his preseason honor, but he sat out the first two contests with a back injury.
He made his season debut Sunday at Iowa State and scored nine points in 22 minutes off the bench, but the then-No. 7 Wolverines (3-1) lost 77-70. Beilein again used McGary as a reserve in Thursday's first-round matchup with Long Beach State, with McGary hitting all three of his shots for six points while adding four rebounds in an 85-61 win.
Senior Jon Horford has started each game in McGary's place after making five starts in his previous three seasons.
''The guys that (have gotten McGary's) minutes have great endurance,'' Beilein said. ''So I think they'll be fine.''
Sophomore Nik Stauskas has stepped up as well, averaging 22.3 points and hitting 13 of 22 from 3-point range over his last three. Stauskas scored a career-high 24 points Thursday while hitting four 3s to help Michigan set a tournament record with 14 3-pointers on 30 attempts.
''We feel he's got going in the last couple of games,'' Beilein said. ''What I like is he's finding open people. I don't think he forced a shot today. ... I like the way he's guarding, the way he's rebounding. A lot of things.''
Despite the win, Beilein knows Michigan still has plenty of room to improve.
''We're growing in our versatility every day, but it's nowhere near where we hope it will be going down the stretch,'' he said.
Beilein may have to give McGary some extra minutes against a tough Florida State team that routed No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth 85-67 on Thursday.
The Seminoles (4-0) again used a balanced scoring attack, as they've had at least four players in double figures in each game. Senior reserve Ian Miller - averaging 17.0 points - scored a game-high 22, Devon Bookert added 18 and Okaro White and Montay Brandon (11 rebounds) scored 14 apiece.
Florida State is scoring 86.3 points per game and has won by an average of 20 while shooting 54.5 percent. It overcame 25 turnovers and VCU's full-court pressure by hitting 53.7 percent from the field.
''We don't ever go into a game trying to set a tempo, we just try to be who we are and take what the defense gives us,'' coach Leonard Hamilton said. ''We didn't go into the game saying we wanted to have an 85- or an 86-point game, what we wanted to do was try to come up with a way to win the game."
Miller would like to see the Seminoles take better care of the ball.
''Since I've been here, we've been having about 20 turnovers a game,'' he said. ''It's just something that we just got to keep working on. We've just got to see what we did wrong and try to fix it."
These teams haven't met since Florida State's 87-66 win in the second round of the NIT on March 15, 2007.