Long Beach State loses to No. 14 Michigan 85-61

Updated at: 11/21/2013 10:05 PM
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

(AP) SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Long Beach State was beaten from the perimeter in its latest early loss to a top team.

Nik Stauskas scored 24 points, Caris LeVert had 20 and No. 14 Michigan made a tournament-record 14 3-pointers in defeating the scrappy 49ers 85-61 Thursday in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Long Beach State coach Dan Monson thought his team had opportunities and played well enough to win in spurts, but couldn’t get enough misses from Michigan to get over the hump.

"They have so many weapons offensively and we just didn’t have an answer to slow them down on the offensive end of the floor," Monson said.

A.J. Spencer and Mike Caffey each had 12 points to lead Long Beach State (1-4), which lost its fourth straight game. The 49ers, however, are used to playing a rugged early schedule that steels them for Big West Conference play.

"This is our third BCS game _ Kansas State, Arizona and Michigan. We’ve just got to be able to take scouting reports and be able to disrupt somebody and not get people comfortable right out of the gate so easy," Monson said.

"Part of it today was my fault. I tried to start in triangle-and-two and on Stauskas and LeVert, and then (Glenn) Robinson III and (Derrick) Walton Jr. hit 3s. Right out of the gate, they’ve got two guys who had been struggling a bit in a rhythm."

Monson said his team hasn’t had a pre-conference winning record in seven years.

"We had the No. 1 RPI Jan. 1 the last three or four seasons, just playing tough teams," he said. "Every year the last three we’ve been able to win our league by getting better at this time. So it is truly preseason for us right now. We’ve got to get better tomorrow and if we play even better than that on Sunday, then we’ll have an opportunity."

The 49ers came out in a triangle-and-two defensive set and also mixed in some zone to try to keep the Wolverines guessing early.

Stauskas credited his team’s ball movement in the halfcourt for allowing him to get open looks.

"Guys were doing a really good job of getting into the lane, finding me open," he said. "Anytime I get open shots, I hope I can knock them down."

Michigan (3-1) led by 18 in the first half before it was trimmed to nine with less than 10 minutes to play.

But the Wolverines were able to hold on thanks to a steady string of shots from long range. Stauskas and LeVert hit four 3s apiece. Robinson had 14 points.

"We’ve been playing from behind so much in these games; you’ve got to hang in for your opportunities," Monson said. "We fought back ... but then we made a lot of mistakes and beat ourselves. You can’t do that against a team like this."

The Wolverines connected on 14 of 30 attempts from beyond the arc and forced 16 turnovers in their second game since the return of forward Mitch McGary from a back injury. He didn’t start, and played sparingly in finishing with six points.

Michigan coach John Beilein said the plan was to use McGary only when necessary, but the coach said he is pleased with the contributions he has received so far from other frontcourt players.

"The guys that got those minutes have great endurance," Beilein said. "So I think they’ll be fine."

Michigan got a big chunk of its turnovers on deflections in the paint to trigger fast-break opportunities.

Thanks to a big first half they didn’t really need much from McGary, though.

Michigan took a 42-29 lead into the locker room at halftime, but had a much bigger cushion at one point.

The Wolverines breezed through the first part of the opening half, knocking down eight 3-pointers to put the 49ers in an 18-point hole.

Long Beach State responded and used a 15-4 spurt to get it down to seven.

Stauskas helped settle things down for Michigan with his own mini-run to end the half, scoring six straight points.

"We feel he’s got going in the last couple of games," Beilein said of Stauskas, who came in averaging a team-high 17 points. "What I like is he’s finding open people. I don’t think he forced a shot today. ... I like the way he’s guarding, the way he’s rebounding. A lot of things."

As productive as his team might have looked Thursday, Beilein said it can still play better with more work.

"We’re growing in our versatility every day, but’s it’s nowhere near where we hope it will be going down the stretch," he said.

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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)