Eleven games into the Michigan’s basketball season, freshman point guard Trey Burke has lived up to expectations.

Running Michigan coach John Beilein’s offense as a rookie is a tall order to fill, but Burke’s done it exceedingly well, averaging 13.1 points and 4.7 assists per game. Against Alabama A&M on Saturday afternoon, he tallied a game-high 19 points and went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

And what the numbers don’t show is Burke’s ability to stay poised in high-pressure situations.

But the coaching staff is still looking for depth behind Burke at the point guard position. There are a number of options, but none have really proved that they could handle the ball effectively.

Senior guard and co-captain Stu Douglass seems like the most logical choice, with plenty of experience under his belt, but Beilein likes him shooting more than dribbling. Junior reserve Eso Akunne has impressed many with his long-range shooting in the 38 minutes he’s played this season, but he’s prone to turning the ball over when pressured at the top of the key.

More recently, freshman guard Carlton Brundidge has gotten some cracks at the job. The youngster played a season-high 13 minutes in Saturday’s 87-57 victory, sometimes handling the point guard position and other times playing shooting guard next to Burke.

“No, I really wasn’t (expecting to get first-half minutes),” Brundidge said after the game. “But I knew because I was working hard in practice that I was going to get in some time.”

Indeed, Beilein has been trying to get Brundidge some minutes in the last few tune-ups before the team’s conference opener against Penn State on Dec. 29. Though his numbers from Saturday aren’t eye-popping — 1-for-3 from the field and 1-for-3 from the free-throw line — Brundidge proved that he could control possessions, as he didn’t turn the ball over once.

“We were able to spend some time with him over the last week,” Beilein said. “If we could give Trey five minutes of rest every half from somebody, Carlton’s certainly a candidate.”

SMOTRYCZ FINDS HIS ELEMENT: Before the season started, many analysts were projecting a breakout year for sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz.

But for the first few games, Smotrycz continued his trends of foul trouble and inconsistent shooting from last season. At that point, many questioned if this was his year to shine.

Over the last three games, though, Smotrycz has silenced his critics, averaging 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. On Saturday, he tallied 17 and 11, respectively. He’s also committed just five fouls in that three-game span.

“Knock on wood,” Smotrycz laughed when asked about his newfound consistency. “I’m just trying to let the game come to me. I know I have a tendency to kind of force things sometimes. But I’m trying to get out of that.

“I think if I just try to stay out of foul trouble and rebound, I think the points just kind of find me.”

Most impressive has been his ability to knock down the long-range shots, as he’s buried 17 of his 31 attempts from 3-point range this season, good for 55 percent.

“I’ve had a lot of wide-open threes,” Smotrycz said. “Trey or Novak or someone will drive base-line or penetrate middle, and my guy will turn to help. And like I said, I’m wide open a lot.”

INJURY UPDATE: Sophomore center Jon Horford did not dress for Saturday’s game, and he hasn’t gotten minutes since the matchup with Oakland on Dec. 10.

“We just shut him down today, and we’re going to do an MRI this week and see where it is,” Beilein said.

Horford originally bruised his right foot on Dec. 3, against Iowa State. It was a stress injury to his fifth metatarsal bone, and coaches are hoping that it heels prior to Big Ten play.

Without Horford available to back up sophomore center Jordan Morgan, Michigan’s frontcourt depth is very limited. It doesn’t help that Morgan consistently finds himself in foul trouble, either.

In the meantime, junior center Blake McLimans has filled in effectively, and Smotrycz has helped on the rebounding front. But it would be tough for the Wolverines to deal without Horford once competition heats up in the New Year.

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