Michigan basketball (13-0) wasted little time reasserting their non-conference dominance, this time against a helpless Central Michigan team. The #2 ranked Wolverines, behind a double-double from Trey Burke, did their thing and came away with a rock solid 88-73 win over the Chippewas.
How Michigan Won
The Wolverines erased any notion of having to shake off some Christmas break rust. By the time the first tv timeout kicked in, John Beilein’s well-rested team was 10-13 from the field and had the visiting Chippewas on the ropes.
Playing without Tim Hardaway Jr, who was out with a right ankle injury, Michigan never skipped a beat as they led 46-29 at the half on the strength of 20-35 shooting (57.1%) from the field. Central, playing at a frenetic pace, shot just 11-32 (34.4%) in the opening frame.
Caris LeVert stepped in for Hardaway with his first career start and scored 9 points in the 1st half.
Credit Central Michigan with putting up 44 second half points on a strong Michigan defense. 4 CMU players finished in double-digits.
Regardless, Michigan is the only team in the Big Ten to complete a flawless non-conference schedule.
Trey Burke: With fellow leader and 2nd leading scorer Hardaway out, Burke made sure that Michigan remained on point in their quest for a perfect non-conference season. He chalked up his 2nd double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 assists to just 1 turnover. Burke was 9-12 from the floor including 4-7 from long range.
Nik Stauskas: You got the feeling as the 2nd half was getting started that the Canadian gunner was going to get his. And he did. Stauskas had 2 points in the 1st half. After missing his first three ball of the 2nd half, Nik ripped off 5 straight from beyond the arc before finally missing again. He finished the night with 19 points on the strength of 5-8 from beyond the arc and grabbed 7 boards, setting a new career high.
Glenn Robinson III: GR3 got busy above the rim on this night. He flushed it down 4 times on his way to a 20 point night on 9-13 from the floor. He had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
News and Notes
The missed game by Hardaway is the first time he hasn’t suited up since coming to campus over 2 years ago, covering 81 straight starting assignments. Showing off some suit swag on the bench always looks nice, but it’s not where Michigan needs TH2 as Big Ten play is about to rev up.
Once thought to be a sure thing to redshirt this year, LeVert continues to improve and earned his first career start in Hardaway’s absence. LeVert consistently shows the ability to distribute the basketball with efficiency and score it in a variety of ways. The secret is out. LeVert is legit. On top of his career-high 9 points he also dished out 5 assists as he has looked good in a distribution role.
Hey, if you’re going to go home to Canada for Christmas, and make a Youtube video of yourself burying 45 of 50 threes in the backyard, then you might as well back it up on the court. Nik Stauskas did just that. He oozes confidence on and off the court and continues to produce at a silly rate of efficiency. Stauskas is now 39-69 from distance on the season, good for a 56.5% mark.
It’s easy to get complacent when you watch a player as good as Trey Burke on a regular basis. Even still, he will pop your eyes open with a shifty play at least once per game. Tonight, he pulled off a shot I haven’t seen yet. Early in the 1st half he blew by his defender on the left wing with a left-handed dribble, and as he felt the interior defense coming out, he pulled up, jumped off his left foot while fading toward the baseline and canned it. Really impressive stuff from Burke.
As they almost always do, Michigan won the turnover battle by giving it away just 3 times on the night. CMU turned it over 14 times.
Perhaps the surprise of the night was that CMU out-boarded Michigan 37-28.
It’s been a long time since Michigan could run rampant through their non-conference schedule and take on all comers with ease. After dusting the competition to the tune of a 13-0 record, the Wolverines will finally enter a highly anticipated Big Ten slate.
Up first is a Monday, January 3rd, game at Northwestern (9-4). Tip time is set for 7 p.m. eastern.
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