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December 16, 2012
Beilein turns to his guards in win over West Virginia
Freshman shooting guard Nik Stauskas was human from long range, going 2-for-7 (with six turnovers to only one assist). West Virginia went through stretches in which it shot lights out. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., however, propelled Michigan to a fast start in a game it controlled start to finish, resulting in an 81-66 win and an 11-0 record.
The Wolverines will likely move to No. 2 in the country behind Duke following No. 1 Indiana's overtime loss to Butler.
With 9:35 remaining, Burke had already notched 25 points on 12 of 15 field goals. He finished with 27, eight assists and three steals against no turnovers in shooting 12-for-16 from the floor. Burke scored on an array of jumpers, long range and mid-range, got to the hole and might have had a double double had his teammates shot to their ability.
As it turned out, they provided more than enough. The Wolverines rushed out to a 19-4 lead at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, led by as many as 18 and weathered a late WVU run to improve to 11-0 for the first time since the 1988-89 National Championship season.
"With the outcome, I'm glad we got out to that lead, obviously," Beilein said. "It would have been tough to sustain that run. We had turnovers, eight from some freshmen right now who will learn so much from it. It was good to get out to that start, but to hang on to it - you're not going to play at that pace the whole game long."
Hardaway added 25 points on four of eight three-point shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Stauskas added 10 points, Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III eight each (Robinson seven rebounds) in the win.
Hardaway had struggled his last two games with his shot, but Beilein had no doubt it was only a matter of time before he broke out given how he's practiced recently.
"He's been on fire," Beilein said. "Since he hit that first couple, we were hoping that was going to continue. We see this every day in practice right now. In games I tell him, 'Tim, if you don't take those shots, we've got to take you out.' We want our guys to take shots they make in practice. It's not a laboratory out there; we're not experimenting in games. Tim makes those in practice.
"Both Tim and Trey surprise me sometimes what they can do. LaVall Jordan deserves a lot of credit - he works with those two, and the drills and development are all about skill development. Still, there are some things Vall can't teach, I can't teach, that they are able to do. It's in their DNA. Both have the same passion for the game to work out to be in that situation. They don't just show up in the gym. Those two work in the offseason, before practice after practice."
Michigan led 43-32 at halftime and started the second half by shooting 9 of 16 from the floor, quickly pulling away. The Wolverines went ahead 54-36 on a Burke finish at 17 minutes, but the Mountaineers cut it to 71-64 with 4:30 remaining before Michigan pulled away.
"It was really hard to spread it around," Beilein said, calling it a battle of wills and saying, "we showed good will today.
"They were really locking the wings, wouldn't let us make some of entries to share it. Basically, we had to go to dribble drive. Ten years ago we would have just kept backdoor, backdoor, had 20 turnovers and some backdoor lay-ups but might not have won thee game. If we're going to have to win with the guards, we'll take those two - we don't mind handling that type of defensive attack.
"We knew we'd have to meet this type of challenge with the defensive intensity they have, crawling up into us and basically play no catch type of defense. We couldn't get the backdoors we wanted so we had to go dribble drive. It wasn't always pretty, but it sure felt good to get the win."
"We love Jon so much, everybody on this team," Beilein said, adding he was waiting to hear more before commenting on the seriousness of the injury. "Jon, he has a unique personality everybody loves him so much - that's what you tell him. He's got to keep battling and battling.
"He's made so many good strides, worked so hard that better days are ahead. He'll fight through this. I hope it's something he can return from in two weeks, if not sooner."
Jordan Morgan received more minutes as a result of Horford's injury and freshman Mitch McGary's foul trouble. Redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt has practiced recently coming off an ankle injury and could see his minutes increase, Beilein said, adding he hurt for Horford but was excited to give Bielfeldt an opportunity.
"Any type of game we win is big, anytime away from Crisler Center we feel really good about all those," he said. "Our family had so many great memories of West Virginia, we have lot of respect for the program. That's what makes it feel really good. We respect their team, the coach, the university.
The crowd was split, but there were plenty of Michigan fans in attendance.
"When you travel with the block 'M' and have that support Saturday in Brooklyn or New York City, it's a great feeling to represent the University. An Away game, neutral site game, those wins if you ask many coaches give us our best wins."