W. Michigan-Michigan Preview
While Michigan's offense continues to run though Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., freshman Nik Stauskas is quickly starting to emerge as another dangerous option.
Stauskas looks to stay hot and help the No. 3 Wolverines open 8-0 for the first time in 16 seasons Tuesday night as they host surging Western Michigan.
Michigan entered 2012-13 surrounded by plenty of hype after Burke and Hardaway decided to return for their sophomore and junior seasons. While they're both averaging 16.6 points to lead the team, Stauskas' impressive play has made the Wolverines all the more formidable.
Stauskas leads Big Ten freshmen with 14.3 points per game and has proven especially efficient from 3-point range, going 18 for 29 (62.1 percent) to rank among the best in the country.
After posting 20 points in last Tuesday's 79-72 win over then-No. 18 North Carolina State, Stauskas scored a season-high 22 in his first start as Michigan pulled out a 74-66 win at Bradley on Saturday.
"It was a little bit exciting, but when the game starts you've just got to do what you've got to do," Stauskas said. "Like I told (Burke), every time I'm open, I'm going to knock it down."
Stauskas shot 4 of 5 from long distance and also came up with two steals.
"He's shown he can guard some people, he's shown he can get in the lane," coach John Beilein said. "Obviously he can shoot."
Michigan, which hasn't opened 8-0 since 1996-97, now returns home, where it has outscored unranked non-conference foes by an average of 19.7 points during a 22-game winning streak. The Wolverines have taken 20 of 21 overall at the Crisler Center.
Though Michigan figures to have the edge again Tuesday, Western Michigan (6-1) enters on a six-game win streak for the first time since 2004-05.
Two nights after sneaking by High Point 54-53, Western Michigan extended its run Saturday with a 76-72 win over Oakland. The Broncos are giving up an average of 57.6 points and holding opponents to 37.8 percent shooting.
Junior Shayne Whittington had 14 points, eight rebounds and a career-high six blocks Saturday while senior Nate Hutcheson scored 13. Darius Paul added 12 points for his sixth consecutive double-digit effort, the longest such stretch by a Broncos freshman since 2001-02.
"We've got an awesome team one through 18, any one of the guys can step up and be the man, no question," senior reserve Dan Loney said. "We defer to each other, we don't care who it is, we're just out there trying to win games together and make each other better."
The Broncos had a hard time keeping up against ranked foes last season, falling 78-58 at then-No. 19 Gonzaga and 110-70 at then-No. 7 Duke.
Western Michigan has taken the last two matchups in this series, though the schools haven't met since 2002.