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December 31, 2012

Nik Stauskas earns Big Ten weekly award

In the first half of the Wolverines' 88-73 win over Central Michigan last Saturday, it looked as the Chippewas had found a way to bottle up freshman shooting sensation Nik Stauskas, something very few teams have been able to do thus far.

Stauskas had managed to find just one open shot - and did not attempt a single three-pointer.

"They were in some crazy match-up zone, and I was always being covered, but everyone else was wide open," Stauskas said. "You could see it in the first couple minutes - Trey [Burke} and Caris [LeVert] were getting open shots. I can't complain when people are getting wide-open shots."

Although Stauskas wasn't open, there were plenty of opportunities for the Wolverines, who scored 46 points in the half, forcing Central Michigan to switch up its defensive strategy, playing a 1-3-1 for the majority of the second stanza.

And that's when Stauskas took off.

He took eight three-pointers in the final 20 minutes, making five consecutive shots. He finished with 19 points. His five made three-pointers and seven rebounds were career highs.

"As soon as I saw my first open look, I said, 'Alright, let's get it going,'" Stauskas said.

For his efforts, Stauskas earned Big Ten Freshman Of The Week honors.

Of the eight times the award has been given out this season, Stauskas has earned three of them. Michigan State forward Gary Harris is the only other player to win multiple Big Ten Freshman Of The Week honors, with two.

The Wolverines have claimed fully half of the awards so far, with three coming from Stauskas and forward Mitch McGary claiming one.

Stauskas currently ranks first nationally in three-point percentage, hitting 29-of-53 shots on the year (54.7 percent).

He is the lone freshman in the top 10 nationally in the category, and just two other freshman have cracked the top 50: Houston's Jherrod Stiggers ranks No. 15 nationally (47.3 percent) and Boston University's John Papale ranks No. 45 nationally (42.4 percent).

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