After thumping IUPUI on Monday night in the first game of the NIT Season Tip-Off, Michigan returned to action less than 24 hours later with a trip to Madison Square Garden on the line.
The Wolverines got 17 points from Tim Hardaway Jr, an impressive 15 from freshman Nik Stauskas, and 12 from Trey Burke as they cruised to a 77-47 win over previously unbeaten Cleveland State.
It looked as if it would be no contest from the start as Michigan jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first four minutes. But Cleveland State scored seven of the next nine points to pull within three.
Trey Burke hit a three and CSU answered with a bucket from Anton Grady. Stauskas and Burke both made layups and Glenn Robinson III converted a dunk before CSU’s Tim Kamczyc hit a three. Michigan led 19-12 with 11:45 left in the half, and Cleveland State would only score one more basket the rest of the half. Over the next 11 minutes, Michigan went on a 23-2 run to take a 42-14 halftime lead.
The second half was much more competitive as Cleveland State threw out some defensive looks that John Beilein hadn’t prepared for and Michigan’s offense was slowed somewhat. Even so, Michigan outscored the Vikings in the second half to win by 30.
Stauskas scored 11 points in a five minute span at the beginning of the second half en route to his best game of his young career. CSU even went to a box-and-one defense on him to slow him down. That’s a pretty good mark to make in the third game of your career.
Hardaway hit 7-of-12 shots and 3-of-6 from three-point range in leading the team in scoring for the second time in three games. Burke was a bit quieter with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and hit just 1-of-4 three-point attempts, but he dished out seven assists.
As a team, Michigan shot just over 50 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three – both lower than the first two games. But make no mistake about it: Michigan seized control of the game early and didn’t let up.
Through three games, Michigan is averaging 89.3 points per game, giving up just 54.3, and shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 53.1 percent from downtown. Granted, the schedule will only get tougher, but Michigan has done exactly what it was supposed to do: win big. Last season, Michigan was playing much closer – and lower scoring – games against teams of this caliber, beating Ferris State 59-33, Towson 64-47, and Western Illinois 59-55 in the first three games. The opening three games this season are the first time in program history that Michigan has opened the season with three straight wins of 30 points or more.
Michigan has a week off before retuning to action next Wednesday against Pittsburgh in the semifinals in New York City. The Panthers beat Fordham 86-51 on Monday and Lehigh 78-53 tonight.
|Final Game Stats|
|01||Glenn Robinson III*||2-7||0-3||5-6||3||4||7||0||9||2||0||1||0||29|
|10||Tim Hardaway Jr*||7-12||3-6||0-1||0||6||6||1||17||4||1||0||0||31|