GAME NOTES: Despite several key injuries to critical players on the roster, the Michigan Wolverines have won three in a row and look to make it four as they host the Northwestern Wildcats in a Big Ten Conference matchup on Sunday.
Northwestern went on a three-game winning streak prior to the holiday break, but has since lost its last two contests. The Wildcats are 3-5 in their last eight games, including a loss to No. 4 Wisconsin, 76-49, on Thursday.
Michigan, without sophomore forward Mitch McGary who decided to have back surgery, has won three in a row, most recently on the road against Minnesota, 63-60. It was the first Big Ten win for the Wolverines this season.
Michigan holds a strong lead in the all-time series between the two programs, 107-56, which includes wins in the last five meetings. The Wolverines are 61-20 all-time against Northwestern in Ann Arbor.
Northwestern fell behind against Wisconsin early, thanks in large part to poor shooting from the floor in the first half. The Wildcats shot 26.1 percent in the first 20 minutes and trailed 40-14 as the teams headed for the locker rooms. Alex Olah scored nearly half of the Wildcats' 49 points in the contest Thursday, netting a team-high 23 to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. Drew Crawford was the only other Northwestern player in double figures in the contest, as he scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. The team ended up shooting a combined 34.5 percent from the field in the 76-49 loss.
Crawford leads the Wildcats this season with a 15.9 ppg average, and is best on the roster with 7.7 rpg. JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps are the other two Northwestern players averaging double digits. Cobb nets 12.2 ppg, while Demps pours in 10.5 ppg. Dave Sobolewski leads the Wildcats this season with 45 total assists and is tied for the team lead with 13 steals. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 40.9 percent from the floor, and average 65.4 ppg.
In a game that featured 10 lead changes, Michigan held on to win against Minnesota thanks to Jon Horford layups with a little over four minutes remaining that pushed Michigan ahead for good. Freshman Zak Irvin led the Wolverines with 15 points in the contest, going 5-of-8 from the floor - all 3-pointers. Horford and Nik Stauskas each added 14 points in the Big Ten win. Horford added nine rebounds, a block and two steals to his stat line.
Stauskas leads the team this season with 17.8 ppg, and is the team leader with 43 total assists on the year. Glenn Robinson III, who only played 20 minutes in the last contest due to a sprained ankle, is second on the team with 13.5 ppg. McGary, who has only played in eight games this season due to a back ailment that led to surgery, is the team leader in rebounding with an 8.3 rpg clip. Horford is next, averaging 5 rpg.
Despite the injury concerns, Michigan is a very strong team with depth, especially at home. Expect the Wolverines to keep the win streak alive against Northwestern.
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