Jan 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines bench reacts to a play during the 2nd half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Michigan won 80-75. Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Hoops: Wolverines earning respect as U-M-MSU rivalry rebounds

If anything was learned in Michigan’s exciting win over Michigan State Saturday night, it’s that the rivalry between the two schools is alive and well.

Izzo, who’s had his way with Michigan for several years, has now found a rival 45 miles away who can play the game at a very high level. In fact, since Beilein arrived in 2007, Michigan is 5-6 against  against the juggernaut Spartans.

Except with officials, Izzo isn’t an over-the-top boisterous coach. He tends to get excited with the officials, and is becoming edgy with the team from Ann Arbor.

In his press conference  Saturday night, he was first baited into jawing about the refs, then touching on the loss of front court stars Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson,  and then speaking of Keith Appling.

Appling couldn’t shoot

Appling, a 6-1 senior point guard from Detroit, reinjured his wrist in Tuesday’s win over Indiana,  and probably shouldn’t have played 37 of the 40 minutes Saturday,  if any at all.  Appling admitted that he couldn’t take part in the shoot around before the game.

“I can’t even shoot,” said Appling, who was 3-for-11 from the field, missing both of his three-point tries.

Matt Costello, a 6-9, 240-lb Bay City kid, spoke like a true “sportsman” claiming the team was out of sync throughout the night.

“Practice was weird the past couple days because BJ (Dawson) has been out,”  he added.”

The Spartans, one might figure,  weren’t out of sink when they led 49-41 with 13:29 remaining.

Stauskas blows kisses

But a pair of free throws by Glenn Robinson and a subsequent trey by Nik Stauskas gave the Wolverines a 63-60 lead  they never relinquished.

Stauskas, who took quite a ribbing in Michigan’s loss here  a year ago, was blowing kisses to the  fans who remained afterwards. In the media room, the normally animated Stauskas inspired a debate of weather he was more like J.J. Redick, or Scott Skiles, two long-range shooters you came to love or hate.

It’s truly been a remarkable season for No. 21 (See AP Poll Below)  Michigan (15-4, 7-0), despite the premature loss of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke to the NBA.

The back injury to star center/forward  Mitch McGary might have been a more telling blow, but Michigan coach John Beilein has played the right cards. What doesn’t hurt is how this group of Wolverines has bought into Beilein’s coaching  while also buying into each other.

“Now there’s just consistency and people have been in their roles now for over a month,” Beilein said on Monday during the Big Ten conference call. “It’s been five weeks since he (McGary)  played a game, so we’ve had five weeks to just get a rhythm about who’s playing, where they’re playing and how they’re playing.”

McGary spoke with the media Saturday night for the first time since undergoing Jan. 7 back surgery. He did so through a wide smile following the win at Breslin.

McGary return?

“I’m just thrilled for the guys to be on this streak right now — for them to come together and take leadership of this team,” he said outside the locker room after the Wolverines’ n third straight victory over a top-10 team.

McGary said he’s no longer in pain from a lower-back condition that derailed his season, but is still sore from surgery.

Asked when he’ll begin rehabilitation, McGary said, “I really don’t know right now,” and that he has “a follow-up meeting with my doctor” coming in the near future.

Could a return to the team be possible this season?”

“It’s possible,” McGary answered. “I would love to, but I don’t want to rush back into it.”


AP Top 25
1 Arizona (61) 18-0 1,621
2 Syracuse (4) 18-0 1,559
3 Michigan State 17-1 1,497
4 Villanova 16-1 1,377
5 Wichita State 19-0 1,368
6 Florida 15-2 1,303
7 San Diego State 16-1 1,211
8 Kansas 13-4 1,117
9 Wisconsin 16-2 1,074
10 Iowa 15-3 1,041
11 Oklahoma State 15-3 971
12 Louisville 16-3 804
13 Massachusetts 16-1 781
14 Kentucky 13-4 769
15 Cincinnati 17-2 736
16 Iowa State 14-3 644
17 Ohio State 15-3 549
18 Duke 14-4 447
19 Saint Louis 17-2 421
20 Pittsburgh 16-2 419
21 Michigan 13-4 362
22 Kansas State 14-4 221
23 Memphis 13-4 201
24 Baylor 13-4 170
25 Oklahoma 14-4 111
  • Others receiving votes: Creighton 98, Connecticut 62, Gonzaga 59, California 44, Colorado 26, UCLA 23, Harvard 12, George Washington 8, Missouri 6, Texas 5, Xavier 4, Southern Methodist 2, Virginia 1, New Mexico 1
  • Dropped from rankings: Creighton 20, Colorado 21, UCLA 25

(AP Poll courtesy ESPN)

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer





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