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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 28, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Crisler Center (13,751) -- Ann Arbor, Michigan. Television: BTN. Home Record: Holy Cross 2-1, Michigan 4-1. Away Record: Holy Cross 3-2, Michigan 0-2. Neutral Record: Holy Cross 1-2, Michigan 3-1. Conference Record: Holy Cross 0-0, Michigan 0-0. Series Record: Michigan leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Holy Cross Crusaders continue their three-game road swing on Saturday afternoon, as they venture to the Crisler Center for a non-conference tilt with the Michigan Wolverines.
An up-and-down first two months of the season for Holy Cross has resulted in a 6-5 record, including a respectable 3-2 mark away from home. The Crusaders had been losers of two straight games before taking down NJIT on Dec. 21 in convincing fashion, 74-55.
Michigan began the season with sky-high expectations and a No. 7 ranking in the AP poll, but with losses in four of its first 11 games, it has promptly dropped out of the national ranks. The Wolverines suffered a pair of tough losses to nationally-ranked foes Duke (79-69) and Arizona (72-70) early in December, but got back on track with an impressive 68-65 triumph over Stanford in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational on Dec. 21.
Michigan leads the all-time series with Holy Cross, 2-1, although this is the first meeting since 1988.
Despite shooting a modest 41.5 percent from the field in its most recent outing, Holy Cross cruised to an easy 19-point victory by holding NJIT to a lowly 30 percent shooting while also winning the rebounding battle, 43-37. Malcolm Miller proved to be a difference-maker in the paint, tallying 18 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. Eric Green brought 15 points, five assists and five steals to the table, while Dave Dudzinski added 14 points. On the season, the Crusaders have shown an aptitude for scoring, netting 73.7 points per game on 44.6 percent efficiency from the field, but unfortunately they allow nearly as many points at the other end (71.3 ppg). Dudzinski is the catalyst, scoring 17.1 points per game with great percentages from the field (.504), 3-point range (.458) and the foul line (.804), while grabbing a team- best 7.6 rebounds per tilt. With Cullen Hamilton (16.2 ppg) missing the past five games, Malachi Alexander (10.1 ppg) and Miller (9.8 ppg) have stepped up their play.
The Wolverines held a lead as large as 10 points over Stanford with under seven minutes to play, and while they saw that advantage dwindle to just one in the final minute, Nik Stauskas put the game on ice with a pair of free throws to give them a three-point victory. They struggled to find their shooting stroke, making good on only 40.4 percent of their field goal tries, but they took care of the basketball, committing just eight turnovers. Stauskas, who was a perfect 9-of-9 from the stripe, finished with a game-high 19 points. Glenn Robinson III and Zack Irvin finished with 17 and 12 points, respectively, and both grabbed six rebounds. Michigan, despite its four early losses, has been impressive with regard to stats, shooting greater than 46 percent from the field (including .383 from beyond the arc) for a +15.0 scoring margin. It also lives comfortably in the black in terms rebounding (+3.6) and turnovers (+3.1). Stauskas (18.4 ppg) is a sharpshooter from long range, making 27-of-59 3-point attempts. Robinson III scores 13.4 points per game, while Caris LaVert (12.8 ppg) has 29 assists coupled with only 13 turnovers. The squad has a big hole to fill in the frontcourt moving forward, as Mitch McGary (9.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery.
McGary's absence is a huge blow for Michigan's prospects in the Big Ten, but those worries are for another day, as the Wolverines should have no problem dismissing Holy Cross on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 85, Holy Cross 68
12/28 10:45:09 ET
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