By Daniel Wasserman, Daily sports writer
Published November 9, 2012
Michigan gave Slippery Rock a friendly welcome to Ann Arbor.
The fans at Crisler Center — accustomed to cheering for The Rock at each home football game — didn’t boo the visiting team during its pregame introductions. Once play started, Michigan even let Slippery Rock take a lead into the first official timeout, when the The Rock led 9-8.
The teams traded leads for most of the first seven minutes of the game, but with 13:10 remaining, sophomore point guard Trey Burke’s 3-pointer from the corner put Michigan ahead 17-15. And the Wolverines never looked back.
Though Michigan didn’t look quite like a top-five team for most of the game, the Wolverines’ talent was too much for Slippery Rock, willing Michigan to a 100-62 victory — the first time the program has reached the century mark since 2007.
Burke and the Wolverines were never able to fully grasp control of the opening stanza. Though Burke scored eight first-half points, he shot just 3-for-10 and had four turnovers, as Michigan entered the locker room with a 44-30 lead.
Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who led all players in both first-half points and rebounds with 12 and seven, finished with his fourth career double-double. Hardaway missed just two shots and connected on all five of his 3-pointers, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Hardaway said he had “no idea” when the last time he shot as well as he did Friday night.
“I don’t even think one of his threes hit the rim,” Burke said. “It was good to see, and it wasn’t even just his 3-point shooting.
“He did everything we needed him to do tonight. … You just see that fire that he comes with. When I see that, when we see that as a team, that’s when we try to feed him.”
Slippery Rock appeared to begin the second half with momentum, scoring on its first two possessions to cut its deficit to 10. But Hardaway lit a fire under the Wolverines, soaring through traffic and throwing down a monstrous one-hand jam. After freshman forward Glenn Robinson III hit a jumper, Hardaway followed with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to propel Michigan to a 20-point lead.
Burke recovered from his sluggish start, flashing his talent that garnered pre-season All-American accolades. The guard finished with 21 points and eight assists, including a loft that Hardaway hammered home for an alley-hoop.
“What he was trying to do — he was really so excited to be back out there and playing with his teammates (that he was) probably going too quick,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “He hurried some things (but) I loved his pace in the second half. I don’t think you’ll see his five turnovers again, but he was just trying a little too hard.”
Four freshmen saw considerable minutes in their first official college game. Robinson started and flirted with a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Guard Nik Stauskas, who was questionable prior to game time with a back injury, finished with seven points, connecting on one of his two 3-pointers. Forward Mitch McGary finished with nine points thanks to a couple thunderous dunks, while also gathering nine rebounds. Point guard Spike Albrecht scored just two points, and at times played the two-guard with Burke on the floor.
Slippery Rock made just 36.9 percent of its shots. Guard Devin Taylor led The Rock with 14 points, and only one other scorer reached double digits.
Twelve different Wolverines scored, as Michigan connected on 66.7 percent of its shots and 7-of-9 3-pointers in the second half.
“We’ve got a lot of options,” Burke said. “Sometimes, somebody’s not hitting, another guy’s going to step up. If he’s not hitting, another guy’s going to step up. I just think that, with the type of options that we have, the biggest thing with us is that we trust each other.
“The sky’s the limit with this team.”