Is Mitch McGary Michigan's best big man right now? John Beilein says he's earning heavy minutes
Is freshman Mitch McGary Michigan's best big man right now?
Wolverines coach John Beilein wasn't willing to single the 6-foot-10, 260-pounder out after a 14-point, 6-rebound performance against Ohio State on Tuesday.
But he didn't exactly deny it either.
"I'd hate to say that, but he's playing really well," Beilein said. "You've seen the development, anybody's crazy if they saw him early in the year and (can't see his development)."
After being used as Michigan's primary center off the bench against All-American Cody Zeller on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind., McGary hit career-highs in points (14), minutes (29), steals (4) and field goals made (7) against the Buckeyes.
During the first half, McGary was arguably the team's best player -- as his 10 points and 6 rebounds seemed to consistently energize a Michigan team that desperately needed a shot in the arm against fired up Ohio State.
"We came out kind of cold in the first half," McGary said. "I was just rolling hard to the basket in the first half."
McGary once again came off the bench behind sophomore center Jon Horford, who was solid with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 13 minutes.
Horford earned his third straight start in place of Jordan Morgan, who still doesn't seem fully healthy after injuring his ankle at Illinois on Jan. 27.
Morgan played Tuesday, but was limited for a second consecutive game, seeing just four minutes of action.
"We need him back," Beilein said. "He practiced a little bit Monday, but nothing live, nothing full court. I wanted to get him in there (a little).
"He was sore after Indiana, so we're trying to get him to hopefully be ready to go (Saturday at Wisconsin), because we're going to need him."
Statistically, Michigan and Ohio State were basically a wash inside. The Wolverines out-rebounded the Buckeyes 32-30. Ohio State won the points in the paint battle 30-28, and out-scored Michigan 16-12 on the offensive glass.
But late in the game, the Buckeyes' full-strength big man rotation seemed to wear Michigan down -- as Ohio State continually seemed to get second-chance opportunities and beat Michigan inside.
A healthy Morgan would give the Wolverines their full compliment of big men for the Big Ten stretch run.
And though Beilein says he doesn't care who starts the game, and he enjoys bringing McGary off the bench, he won't deny that -- full strength or not -- his freshman will likely need more minutes moving forward.
"He's one of the big men right now that is really evolving his game," Beilein said. "To be able to see the floor, rebound, catch and finish and play big. That's been a project with Bacari (Alexander) and myself since day one.
"You watch his footwork right now, it's a long way from where it was in September and it's really allowing him to use that size."
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