The Michigan Wolverines basketball team put up a huge early season win over the 8th ranked Memphis Tigers, 73-61, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.
After a sluggish start to the non-conference slate, the Wolverines erased any doubt about their ability to hand with the nation’s elite in this one.
Michigan was up 37-31 at halftime on the strength of a 10-0 run. Michigan shot 15-25 (60%) from the field in the 1st half compared to 11-31 (35.5%) for Memphis. Both teams struggled from deep as Michigan was 3-10 (30%) and the Tigers managed just 2-13 (15%).
Tim Hardaway, Jr. had 11 in the first half and Trey Burke had 9. Coach John Beilein used 12 players in the 1st half in an effort to keep the legs fresh over the course of the 3-day tournament. He was also able to mix and match his defenses to keep the fast-paced Memphis attack out of rhythm.
Michigan was able to match Memphis’ speed for most of the game, spearheaded by the fearless combination of Burke and Hardaway. For a Freshman, Burke appeared completely un-phased by the big stage in Maui.
Hardaway, Jr. had 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists as he continues to assert himself as one of the nation’s rising stars.
The play of the game came when Michigan was up 6 right before halftime. Memphis’ star point guard was running the clock down and then took Burke to the hole. Attempting a floater from about 10 feet, Johnson was erased on a beautiful left-handed block by the 6’0’’ Burke. The Freshman standout sent Johnston’s shot into the front row, sending Memphis’ team into a tizzy as a scuffle nearly broke out at half court.
The play resulted in double-technicals being called, one on Zack Novak and one on Will Barton.
Michigan received great contributions off the bench from Jon Horford and Eso Akunne. Akunne hit a 3-pointer that put Michigan up by 12 with 12:24 left in the game. Horford, who spelled Jordan Morgan for big chunks of the game due to early foul trouble, scored 6 points, and had 5 boards, 1 assist, and 2 blocks in his best game as a Wolverine.
Michigan will play the winner of the Duke-Tennessee game Tuesday night at 7:00 eastern.