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November 27, 2012

Michigan shows its championship potential

On a night when Michigan raised its 2012 Big Ten championship banner, John Beilein's team showed it has no intention of going away. Freshman Nik Stauskas showed why he'll be the best pure shooter since Glen Rice, point guard Trey Burke why he might be the best at his position in school history in a 79-72 win over N.C. State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that had national experts talking Final Fours and national championships.

The Wolverines opened 14-point leads in each half before holding on at the end, weathering a Wolfpack comeback to within five points down the stretch. Burke followed up a nine-assist first half with an 18-point second in controlling the game from start to finish, getting help from his shooters.

"He didn't do anything differently," Beilein said. "In the first half he had nine assists. That's incredible. And we scored 43 points. He wants to win, whether he's got to score points, because they were locking up those rails on Nik and Timmy, not giving them any room, so he's got to go to work. He's got that ability that only the best point guards have to use a screen, reuse it and jump it in from 15 to 23 feet. That's really a great quality, and he did it today.

"We really played a very, very talented team. It was like the Arkansas game last year, to get used to that quickness, that talent. I don't think we ever got used to it. We gave up 57 percent shooting, and they're just so quick to the rim with their fast break, they run it down your throat. We hadn't seen that, and I know we'll grow from it.

"I'm not happy about the 57 percent and 72 points, but extremely happy to get a win over a really high quality team that will have a good year."

U-M struggled particularly in its transition defense, but the Wolverines also lost the rebounding battle by 11. Freshman Mitch McGary helped turn the tide early in the second half in working the defensive glass, finishing with five second half boards.

He took a late charge with Michigan up only five to help put the game away.

"Mitch gives us great energy. His charge was s big part in that game," Beilein said. "He's just giving so much. I took him out once not because he was tired, but because he gave up middle on a drive on a scout specific thing - he's used to coming out when he's tired because he gives so much. He wasn't tired, which means he's really getting in shape."

Tim Hardaway and Stauskas handled most of the first half scoring, with Stauskas bombing from as far as 25 feet in making three of four. When given the green light, he said in the postgame, he's going to go.

"He's been that everywhere we've ever seen him," Beilein said. "If he's open, he believes the ball is going in, and he has as clean a stroke as you can have. He really picked us up in the first half, and I loved what he gave us."

He also loves 6-0, which is where the Wolverines stand with the toughest part of the non-conference schedule behind them.

Notes

  • The Wolverines went more than 25 minutes in one stretch without a turnover. Burke was nearly flawless with the ball in his hands.

    "He's finding the open men," Beilein said. " He was not happy with turnovers in the Garden, had a few in practice yesterday and was not happy with practice, rushing things or not being patient. I thought his pace tonight was terrific. LaVall Jordan has done a wonderful job at getting him to see the game a little slower, trust those guys he has around him.

    "When he was player of the year in Ohio, he was scoring a lot of points. Now he's got to trust the guys around him, and he does."

  • McGary continues to show progress.

    "He's worked extra with the coaching staff often, and he's showing great progress understanding how to play without fouling, play bigger in the post," Beilein said. "Just a lot of really good things. What a pleasure to coach. I'm sure it won't always be a honeymoon with any guy we have, but it's been really good to coach him."

  • Stauskas could be tough to keep out of the starting lineup, Beilein acknowledged. Matt Vogrich started but didn't score.

    "Given today the way he came off the bench … we all have our superstitions or whatever," Beilein said. "I want to see Matt have some success in there. Nik has adapted so well to it but it's something we'll have to consider down the line. We want to get him minutes."



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