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Nik Stauskas leads Michigan to win at No. 3 Wisconsin, seventh straight victory

Jan 18, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

AP Photo AP Photo

You know this win felt good for Michigan.

The last time they were in this building, the then-No. 3 Wolverines thought that they had landed their first win over Wisconsin in the Kohl Center since 1999 as they watched Ben Brust’s halfcourt heave soar in and force overtime.

The Wolverines would lose in the extra frame, so you can imagine their panic as they once again saw a lead evaporating in Madison.

A 14-2 Badger run cut what was once a 15-point Michigan lead to 68-67 with just under a minute left when Nik Stauskas buried a nasty, step-back jumper to put the Wolverines back up four, and after he hit six free throws down the stretch to ice the win, the Wolverines escaped Kohl with a 77-70 win over the No. 3 team in the country.

It’s the second straight loss for Bo Ryan’s ballclub, the second straight game in which they were carved up by penetration from the perimeter. For a team that started the season 17-0, that’s a bit of a concern. The Badgers have given up more than 70 points in four straight games as well.

But whether or not it’s time to be concerned about Wisconsin is a different discussion for a different day, because this is all about Michigan.

The Wolverines were written off as a Big Ten contender when Mitch McGary’s season came to an end a month ago. There were even folks who questioned whether or not Michigan could make the NCAA tournament without McGary. I guess the Wolverines didn’t like that kind of speculation, because they’ve been dominant since then.

Michigan’s record since McGary went out is 7-0. They’ve won their first five Big Ten games, and while it’s fair to question just how impressive it is to beat Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern, there is no questioning a win at Wisconsin.

So what’s changed? Well, Derrick Walton has been better protecting the ball. Glenn Robinson III is being more aggressive offensively. Caris LeVert is continuing to do Caris LeVert things as one of the nation’s most improved players. And Nik Stauskas is developing into an offensive centerpiece, a guy that Beilein can structure an offense around.

Michigan misses Trey Burke, who was an uber-efficient playmaker at the point guard spot. In the last seven games, Stauskas is averaging 4.6 assists and has committed just 10 turnovers. Burke had the ball in his hands in a big moment last season. Stauskas scored the last 11 points on Saturday, including a pair of huge jumpers in the final two minutes. He made the big plays down the stretch against Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Wolverines needed a supporting cast for Stauskas, but the reason they’re thriving is that Beilein is allowing Stauskas to be “the man”.

And he’s delivering.

  1. beelza - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    More bad news for the Badgers. Nigel Hayes is lost for the season after Nik Staukas broke both his ankles w/ a cross-over step-back three which he drained to ice the game.

  2. kenzie1953 - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    The Badger defense the last two games has been poor. Hopefully that will improve as the season goes on. Michigan shot lights out yesterday and made the big shot to secure the victory.

  3. megatronownsyou - Jan 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    In other news Michigan State, the best team in the Big 10 and the number 4 team in the country, beat Illinois last night but for some reason this website doesn’t find that important enough to write about. They do, however, find the St. Louis vs. Fordham game important enough to write a piece about with video to go along with it. Pretty weird and obviously indicative of some sort of bias.

    • beelza - Jan 19, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Stop crying Sparty. NBC Sports will cover your loss to Michigan. Stay tuned.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:20 AM

      awwww… poor baby. did your wittle sparties not get a big write up on this ONE blog? Aww you poor wittle guy. It must be so tough rooting for such an overlooked and abandoned team. The national media hasn’t hardly mentioned MSU for years. NOT

    • Rob Dauster - Jan 22, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      Are you serious dude? This is NBCSports.com. The NBC Sports Network broadcast the St. Louis-Fordham game. Same company, so yeah, you want to call it bias, go ahead. I call it good business. Smart multi-platform promotion. This isn’t hard to figure out.

      You cannot possibly be this stupid. You just can’t.

  4. pgkahn - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Spartans beating Illinois is not news. MichiganUPSETTING Wisconsin IS…

  5. dracko19 - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Um…you do realize that U of M is one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, right? You still think the Wolverines are going to win @ East Lansing? I don’t think so…

  6. barnesaintnoble - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    It’s funny, I don’t see “michigan state” or “spartans” anywhere in the article above. Yet you are here commenting. #TROLLING

    • beelza - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      They are Rose Bowl champs. They are No.4 in the country and yet, they continue to act like a little brother, “whah, look at me…” And then they cry about not getting respect.

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