U-M Focused on Texas, Looking to Avoid Upset

Nik Stauskas

Less than 24 hours after Michigan disposed of Wofford Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the focused shifted quickly to No. 7 seed Texas and their balanced, inside out attack for Saturday.

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- Just hours after the final buzzer had sounded on Michigan’s second round win over Wofford Thursday; the Wolverines’ were back inside the Bradley Center preparing for the No. 7 seeded Texas Longhorns.

With the rest of the night Thursday and part of the day Friday to watch a little NCAA tournament action around the country, Michigan walked away with one prevailing thought.

“A lot of upsets in the first couple days,” Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas said Friday. “You definitely can’t take anyone lightly this time of year. There’s a lot of teams who are hungry.

“A lot of teams, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, so you’ve just got to come out with that hunger and effort every game.”

While some may question the effort in Thursday’s 57-40 win over Wofford, Michigan is hanging their hats on a stellar defensive performance, knowing full well, or at least hoping, the offense will be there when they take the floor Saturday against the Longhorns.

The Terriers shot just 34-percent from the field Thursday.

Statistics may not be a great indicator defensively for Michigan, a team that gives up nearly 65-points per game and allows opponents to shoot just shy of 45-percent from the field, but in practice, the defense is a huge priority.

“As a staff we’ve emphasized defense more than probably people on the outside would give us credit to,” Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer said. “One of the areas we’ve talked to our kids about, we call it ‘KYP,’ know your personnel.

“Coach Beilein and Coach Alexander did a really good job of getting our kids familiar in just two days with the Wofford personnel. Our kids did a really good job of locking and chasing screens, of shrinking the court, of jumping off the pass on particular actions that just created the elusion of having pressure on the ball.

“It was really good to see our kids take information, internalize it and go out there and execute a defensive game plan.”

Flipping the switch to Texas, Michigan already had a chance to take a look at the team looking to prevent them from making their second straight Sweet 16 appearance.

Judging by the film, the Longhorns present a plethora of issues particularly with their size and length on the frontline.

“We watched some film this morning on them,” sophomore Glenn Robinson III said. “We went straight to bed yesterday, but we watched some film on them this morning.

“They like to get out and run. They take quick shots. They’re a great team. They have a lot of length.”

One of the Big 12’s best during the regular season, Texas wouldn’t be classified as a Cinderella type story should the Longhorns take out Michigan Saturday.

Regardless, the Wolverines are well aware of all of the upsets over the first couple of days in the tournament, not looking to be lumped in with the top seeds already bumped early.

“When we have the chance to watch the games at the hotel, watching them and having fun and just talking to each other, it’s crazy to see some of these teams,” Robinson III said. “Mercer beat Duke.

“Some smaller schools are great teams once they get into the tournament, so you can’t look past anyone, you have to take it one game at a time.”

That being said, Michigan’s goals are lofty and Milwaukee isn’t the place they’d like to see their season come to a close.

“We’re trying to go out there every night and play to win and play not to lose,” sophomore wing Caris LeVert said. “We’re just happy to be here.

“We’re really excited and trying to win the whole thing.”

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