Michigan point guard Trey Burke didn't score a point in the first half of a 79-72 win over North Carolina State, and the Wolfpack shot 60 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes. That might have spelled doom last year. This season it meant a 43-36 lead, thanks in large part to freshman shooter Nik Stauskas.
N.C. State jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Wolverines came roaring back behind Stauskas' 13 first half points and junior Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 11. Stauskas made three of his four triples, one from 25 feet with a hand in his face in showing off his range. The only one he missed was the one on which he had the best look, a 20-footer from the corner on a perfectly executed heat check play.
Burke, meanwhile, was masterful with the basketball. He registered nine assists, often finding the open shooter or a big man underneath after penetration. He missed his only two shots, both long triples, but didn't turn it over once in the half.
The Wolfpack was as athletic as advertised and wouldn't go away, in part because Michigan's defense was lacking. Sniper Scott Wood hit two triples to help keep the "Pack close - for the most part, though, they worked inside for their points, taking only six triples. The Wolverines were able to open a 14-point lead at 7:55 on a Stauskas triple, but N.C. State whittled it to five before trailing by seven at the half.
Hardaway opened the second half with a short runner to make it 45-36, but U-M's lax defense and N.C. State's work on the offensive glass cut it to five. Freshman big man Mitch McGary entered and notched four quick defensive rebounds to provide some help inside. An alley-oop from Burke to Robinson and Burke triple put U-M back up 50-42 - Burke expanded the lead to 53-44 on a steal and two-handed dunk near midcourt.
Stauskas wasn't quite as hot in starting the second half, missing two triples, but his teammates - specifically Burke - picked up the slack. Burke's triple off a screen made it 59-46 at 13:30, and it appeared the rout was on. Stauskas finally added his fourth triple at 12:30 to make it 62-48.
Each time N.C. State made a run to pull it to within 10, U-M responded with a bucket to extend the lead. A Burke drive and floater, followed by a steal and dish to McGary in transition pushed the lead back to 14, 66-52.
McGary continued his strong work on the defense glass, Burke continued to score and the Wolverines continued to protect the ball. They didn't notch a turnover until the 4:30 mark of the half, but the subsequent finish by the Pack's C.J. Leslie cut it to nine with 4:24 remaining. A T.J. Warren follow made it 73-66 at 3:17. Warren's lay-up in transition extended the run to 10-0 and made it 73-68.
Hardaway Jr. finally stopped the bleeding with a drive and score at 1:38, but N.C. State cut it to five and had a chance to make it a one-possession game following a Robinson III turnover. McGary drew an offensive foul, and the Wolverines closed it out from the line.
Stauskas scored 20 points, Burke finished with 18 points and 11 assists, Hardaway added 16, Robinson 11 points and seven rebounds and McGary added eight points and five boards in the win.