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December 29, 2012Michigan and Central Michigan played a defense optional first four minutes in a game that seemed destined for a 100-80 finish. CMU cooled, however, while U-M sophomore point guard Trey Burke played one of the best halves of his career in an 88-73 win that leaves the Wolverines a perfect 13-0 in non-conference play.
U-M opens Big Ten action Jan. 3 at Northwestern.
Burke scored 17 points in 14 minutes, adding three assists, and missed only two shots, going 7-for-9 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three-point range in the first half. U-M scored 26 points in the paint in the first half, assisting on 10 of 20 field goals. Freshman Caris LeVert, starting for injured Tim Hardaway Jr. (ankle), led the Wolverines with four first half assists in playing with confidence in his first start.
Though Burke was the story, LeVert's overall performance was eye opening. The freshman hit a step back jumper from the free throw line, a spin and runner in the lane and a triple among his nine, first half points and set up fellow frosh Glenn Robinson III for a number of finishes. Robinson missed on his only two triples but finished on five bunnies (two dunks) off solid passes.
CMU made four of its first six triples to hang around before cooling, finishing 5-for-15 in the half. Freshman Nik Stauskas was quiet, taking (and making) only one shot on a nice drive and finish from the key, but he led the Wolverines with five rebounds.
Central opened the second half by scoring inside and Stauskas missed his first triple before nailing his second from the corner. Robinson scored three on a free throw and a finish off a pass from Burke to push the lead over 20 for the first time, and Stauskas' second triple at 17:00 made it 55-33. His third, a minute later, pushed it to 58-33.
CMU, though, started working the offensive glass to keep Michigan from running away completely. The Chips cut it back to 19, 60-41, before Burke drove the lane for a lefty finish, but liberal substitutions on the Michigan end - Eso Akunne played significant minutes in both halves - and Central's work on the offensive glass kept the spread around 20.
The game was never in doubt, however, thanks in large part to Stauskas' 5-of-6 shooting from long range. Robinson also finally tripled from the corner, but the Wolverines didn't finish as well as they did in the first half. Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan (eight points, two rebounds) both missed in close on nice feeds from Stauskas - at the other end, CMU continued to put up some points, both inside and out.
Burke (22 points, 11 assists) capped his scoring night with a triple from the top that made it 84-62 at 4:00, and he picked up the double double on an assist to Max Bielfeldt at 2:50.
Robinson finished with 20 points, Stauskas 19 points and seven assists and LeVert nine and five assists for the Wolverines.