Michigan Wolverines survive cold start to second half to beat Wofford 57-40
MILWAUKEE – For the first eight and a half minutes Thursday night, Nik Stauskas didn't shoot. It is his job to shoot, and Michigan's star guard likes his job. But he didn't shoot, because there was no need. When he finally hoisted one, it dropped in for a three-pointer. And over the first 25-plus minutes against Wofford, Stauskas wouldn't miss again.
But once he missed, he didn't make another one until a minute remained. And so it went for the No. 2 seed Wolverines in a humdrum 57-40 win over the No. 15 seed Terriers at the Bradley Center. It was an uneven, drowsy affair. Some of that was due to Wofford's deliberate pace. But mostly it was due to Michigan missing a lot of shots and looking out of gas post-intermission, which wasn't the most inspiring way to start another run to the Final Four.
That said, Michigan's defense held Wofford to just 34 percent shooting from the floor and a miserable 1-of-19 effort from three-point range. In that there was some satisfaction. But for the most part there was recognition that the Big Ten regular season champions might have some work to do. Stauskas led Michigan with 15 points and Glenn Robinson III added 14, while Karl Cochran scored 17 for Wofford.
Michigan shot a blistering 63.6 percent in the first half, compiling a 14-point lead. But the Wolverines started the second half by missing 9-of-11 shots, allowing Wofford more time to generate confidence and a comeback.
Along the way, the Wisconsin faithful dotting the Bradley Center seats were annexed by the Wofford crowd, and a three-pointer from Cochran with 9:20 to play juiced up the joint. The Terriers were well within striking distance, down just 40-33, and for the first time all day some suspense slipped into the place.
Its stay was not long. A Jordan Morgan and-one bumped the lead back to 10 with 8:22 left. And when Wofford again pulled within single digits at 43-35, Michigan responded with a 7-0 burst capped by a Caris LeVert three-pointer. It was a 15-point lead, it was about four minutes until the final horn, and it was more or less over. [si_video id="video_8E8AE85A-F3A2-ECC3-B6F6-CE8EAD64ED24" height="500"]