They tried everything to stop him. Defending him with speed, length, power and even a zone, but no matter what head coach Fran McCaffery drew up, the Iowa Hawkeyes could not stop Michigan Wolverines sophomore guard Nik Stauskas.
In a battle of two of the best teams in the Big Ten, Michigan was able to defend their home court on Wednesday night when they defeated the Hawkeyes 75-67. The Wolverines are now 14-4 overall and 6-0 in conference play. This Saturday, they will travel to East Lansing to take on third ranked Michigan State. This will be an incredible matchup between the two remaining undefeated teams in the conference.
If Michigan is going to go into East Lansing and come away with a victory, they need to get a similar effort from Stauskas as they did against Iowa. He tied a career high with 26 points (8-14 from the field and 4-9 from three points range). He also kicked in five assists and five rebounds. Stauskas was able to penetrate the Iowa defense with the dribble all night long, creating shots for himself and his teammates.
Michigan also got a nice effort from Glenn Robinson III (14 points, nine rebounds) and Jordan Morgan (12 points, seven rebounds). March Madness darling Spike Albrecht was great in his first career start, filling in for starting point guard Derrick Walton, who was battling the flu. Albrecht only had seven points, but he controlled the offense well all night finishing with seven assists. He also played the passing lanes brilliantly on the defensive end, totaling four steals.
Iowa had a height advantage inside and they were able to take advantage of it, especially early on. Senior forward Melsahn Basabe had 17 points, 15 of which came in the first half. Junior forward, and the second leading score on the team, Aaron White also finished with 17, all but one point coming in the second half. Senior guard Roy Devyn Marble was second in the Big Ten in scoring coming into the game. He did not bring his best effort on Wednesday night, finishing with 13 points on 3-9 shooting. Marble must be more aggressive if they Hawkeyes are going to make a run at the Big Ten title.
Coming in to this game, Iowa was one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, averaging 87 points per game. Michigan did an incredible job of getting back on defense and shutting down the Hawkeyes’ fast break game. While Iowa was able to capitalize on their height advantage offensively, they were not able to do so on the boards. They had a slight 33-32 advantage in the rebounding department, but they should have done much better on the glass. Michigan seemed to get all of the loose balls, and many led to second chance points.
While this loss was tough for Iowa, they showed great heart and never gave up. A loss on the road against an undefeated Big Ten team should not hurt their resume one bit. This Iowa team is loaded with talent and is one of the deepest squads in the nation. This is not the last time you will hear from the Hawkeyes this season.
Stauskas is the reigning Big Ten player of the week, and he is well on his way to taking the award again. He is playing with extreme confidence and is doing a great job of leading his team to victory. Make no mistake about it, Stauskas is a legitimate player of the year candidate, and Michigan is once again, National Championship contenders.