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January 3, 2013It took almost no time for this one to get out of hand. In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Wolverines stormed out to a 33-13 lead, eventually coasting to a 94-66 victory, their biggest margin of victory in a Big Ten road game since 1964.
Northwestern is struggling through injuries - with perhaps its two best players, Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn, missing the game - and Michigan made them pay for it, with an almost constant offensive onslaught.
"I was really proud of the way our team played and prepared for this game," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "But you feel bad for Northwestern - if we lost people like that, we would have the same issues they're having.
"We just had everything going."
Sophomore point guard Trey Burke set the tone in the game's opening minutes. Five minutes into the game, Burke had already tallied 13 points, building a lead the Wolverines would never relinquish.
Burke finished with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including a 4-of-6 mark from behind the arc.
Although his production eventually cooled off from the blistering pace he set in the first five minutes, Burke found other ways to get the offense in motion, adding five assists and four steals.
"It's really a joy to watch," Beilein said. "Sometimes I just sit back and realize he growth of this young man. He has a presence out there. He has a great ability to know when he can score, and when he can find people. His assist-to-turnover ratio says it all."
After the game, Beilein recalled a game against Northwestern earlier in his career when Northwestern erased a 17-point deficit in Ann Arbor - he was happy to see how Michigan closed out Thursday night.
Holding onto a 21-point lead at halftime, the Wolverines opened the second half on a 12-6 run to put the game farther out of reach.
"We are always working that way, like we're hunting all the time," Beilein said. "We never want to lose that. And it starts with the coaching - we have all this staff, and I'm working longer hours than I ever have, because we love it. We love working with this team. He want to stay hungry.
Michigan junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. returned to the lineup after a one-game absence.
An ankle injury held him out of the Wolverines' 88-73 win over Central Michigan last weekend, and his participation against the Wildcats was a game-time decision.
"He really did. We held him back - he went half-court only in practice yesterday, playing just offense," Beilein said. "Caris [LeVert] had the bad job - he'd come in for defense and then Tim would sub back in for offense.
"If you ask him to ask him to make 100 shots, he'll make 200. If you ask him to rehab for an hour, he'll rehab for two hours. That's the secret - that's why he'll be successful in anything he does."
But there were no lingering effects of his injury. Hardaway added 21 points, hitting four three-pointers along the way, to help Michigan keep he offense humming.
Beilein was also pleased with redshirt junior Jordan Morgan, who added a double-double with 12 poins and 13 boards.
"His 13 rebounds are great," Beilein said. "Bacari [Alexander] has done a wonderful job with his positioning on rebounds."