Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

The Michigan Wolverines (3-0) did not play like the 17th ranked basketball team in the country on Thursday night as they squeaked by the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks (1-1), 59-55.

Trying their best to pull away, Michigan had little answer for Ceola Clark III and his 21 points, barely outlasting the visiting team.

Tim Hardaway, Jr. led the way with 12 of his 16 points coming in the 2nd half, including a big three at the end of the shot clock to put Michigan up by 9 with under 10 minutes to play. TH2 chipped in 4 rebounds and 4 assists on the night as he continues to become a more well-rounded player.

Trey Burke

Freshman Trey Burke had the best all-around game of his young career, scoring 14 points, aided by 3 of 4 from long range. He dropped off 5 assists and pulled down 4 boards.

Perhaps Michigan was looking ahead to the stacked field waiting for them in the Maui Invitational. The team heads way out west tomorrow to prep for the tournament and their opening round game on Monday afternoon against a highly touted Memphis team.

Regardless, Michigan needs to find a way to play above their level of competition when they are the more heavily favored team coming into a game. Western Illinois is going to win their fair share of games in the Summit League and gave the Wolverines literally all they could handle.

Hopefully this game serves as a wakeup call for this still young Wolverines squad.

Forced to find a way to win the game, Coach John Beilein rarely went to his bench. Aside from the starting 5 playing most of the game and 28 bench minutes logged by Stu Douglass, only 13 other game minutes were doled out. Matt Vogrich claimed 7 of them and Jon Horford the other 6.

Coach Beilein has yet to find his rhythm with a roster that he is still feeling out game-to-game. Just prior to ending his presser, he cautioned that, “This is an extremely young team…but we love the way they’re growing.”

Jordan Morgan continues to provide solid production for the Wolverines. With the Leathernecks drawing close at 35-32 with about 15 minutes left in the game, Morgan turned in a hat trick of impressive play. He scored a layup, ran down the court, blocked a dunk attempt by Tommie Tyler, raced back down the court, caught a pass from Hardaway and finished another layup on the offensive end putting Michigan back up by 7. Morgan finished with 11 points and 5 boards.

Evan Smotrycz, Stu Douglass, and Zack Novak combined to go just 4-18 from the field and 2-11 from 3-pt. range, contributing to the inconsistent play by the Wolverines’ offense.

Power forward Terell Parks chipped in 11 points and 5 boards for Western Illinois before fouling out in the 2nd half.

Beilein had high praise for Ceola Clark III after the game. Mentioning his ability to control the game on both sides of the floor, he think Western Illinois will cause a lot of trouble in the Summit League.

Michigan is about to get tested as they enter a loaded field in Maui that includes Memphis, Duke, Kansas, Georgetown, UCLA, and others. How they fare in this tournament will go a long way toward the confidence level of this team moving forward.

The Memphis game is scheduled for 3:00 eastern on Monday afternoon.

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