INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Perhaps as unexpected as anything in Michigan’s 69-55 loss to Michigan State Sunday was 13 minutes off the bench for little used reserve and redshirt sophomore center Max Bielfeldt.
Averaging just under five minutes in 17 appearances this season, Bielfeldt grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot as Wolverines’ centers Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford each battled foul trouble early and often throughout the game with the Spartans.
Morgan picked up his first foul just 1:15 into the game as Horford came on only to pick up his first and second foul 19 seconds apart, clearing a path for the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Illinois native to see some time.
“Well, (Jon) Horford was in foul trouble, and we thought we could just hang in there a little bit and keep it under double digits at halftime, which we were on the verge of doing,” Michigan coach John Beilein said afterward. “And Max (Bielfeldt) is really good in practice every day.”
Biefleldt played just shy of six minutes in that first stretch of action in the first half before Morgan picked up his second foul, put back in with 9:46 remaining until the break.
Playing physical and battling Michigan State forward Adreian Payne inside, Bielfeldt was able to stand Payne up on one sequence, blocking a shot attempt on his way up and grabbing the basketball to force a Spartan turnover.
Not bashful, Bielfeldt even stepped behind the three-point line directly in front of the Michigan State bench, firing a contested jumper that rimmed out.
Despite the miss, Beilein says those fall more times than not inside the William Davidson Player Development Center.
“We can't stop his three-point shooting,” he said. “In practice, he's done some really good things. So I thought he carried himself really well.”
Both of Bielfeldt’s rebounds came on the offensive end, one amongst a crew of Spartans mistiming their jumps.
Zero points or highlight reel plays, Bielfeldt stepped up and stepped in when Michigan needed him, something that could be necessary should the Wolverines meet another big, physical team in the NCAA tournament still without the services of injured center Mitch McGary.