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McGary-less Michigan routs Northwestern

Published: Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 4:51 p.m. CDT
Caption
Michigan guard Nik Stauskas dunks while being trailed by Northwestern forward Nathan Taphorn in the first half Sunday at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined for 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Mitch McGary-type numbers, in other words.

Michigan won again without McGary, the star big man who is out indefinitely with a back injury. Nik Stauskas scored 18 points in Sunday's 74-51 victory over Northwestern – and Morgan and Horford both filled in well down low.

"We're finding ways to make up for the injury to Mitch," coach John Beilein said.

The Wolverines (10-4 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) have won six straight over the Wildcats, and this victory wasn't much different than Michigan's two routs last season. Northwestern (7-8, 0-2) trailed by only seven at the half but couldn't keep up. Morgan had eight points and eight rebounds, while Horford added seven points and eight rebounds.

Morgan played 18 minutes and Horford played 20.

"It's always next man up," Horford said. "We know that we have to produce. If it happens to be us combining for these numbers — or he has a great night one night, or I have a great night, we'll take whatever it is as long as we have that post presence."

Glenn Robinson III added 12 points for Michigan. There was concern about his status after he left Thursday's win at Minnesota with an apparent right leg injury, but he played 31 minutes Sunday and showed his usual leaping ability.

Robinson's alley-oop dunk from freshman Zak Irvin on a fast break gave Michigan a 49-35 lead, and another dunk by Robinson in transition put the Wolverines up 53-37.

Irvin's 3-pointer from the left corner made it 64-40.

Morgan and Horford, meanwhile, provided enough muscle inside. Michigan outrebounded Northwestern, 33-21.

"They're veteran guys," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "They kind of have a two-headed monster now at that spot. ... They don't run any plays for those guys. They just play off penetration. They get to their spots, they catch and finish, and they give them good defense, rebounding and toughness."

Morgan, a senior, and Horford, a junior, are both captains this season. They were with Michigan in 2012, when the Wolverines won a share of the Big Ten title before McGary had even started playing for the Wolverines.

"We won a Big Ten championship with those two," Beilein said. "They just are now just getting back to a rhythm that they're not looking over their shoulder. It's just good. I think they're in a good place."

Amid a major snowstorm in the Ann Arbor area, Michigan and Northwestern played in front of a quiet crowd with plenty of empty seats.

Spike Albrecht provided the game's first real highlight with a nifty drop pass to Stauskas for a dunk on a fast break. That gave Michigan a 13-10 lead.

Caris LeVert's 3-pointer pushed the lead to seven, and he followed with a nice pass to Morgan for a layup and a 24-15 advantage.

It was 31-24 at halftime, and Stauskas started the second half off with a 3-pointer. Robinson then scored from the perimeter to give the Wolverines a 12-point lead.

Horford had 14 points and nine rebounds in a win over Minnesota on Thursday, and this time it was Morgan's turn to make a significant contribution. He had eight points and five rebounds in the first half alone.

Drew Crawford led the Wildcats with 17 points, but scored only four of them in the second half. Northwestern lost twice to Michigan by a combined 50 points last season. Center Alex Olah scored 12 points Sunday on 4-of-5 shooting, but the Wildcats — especially Crawford — seemed to wear down as the game progressed.

"I need to play better in the second half," Crawford said. "To start the second half, I had an open 3 and a hook in the lane, both shots I should make and I missed both of them. That was tough for me. I turned the ball over too much, so a lot of that's on me."

Northwestern trailed 39-33 before Michigan went on a 14-4 run to break the game open.

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