With a 61-56 win over Minnesota, the No. 16 Michigan basketball team moved to 2-0 in the Big Ten, keeping to its goal of remaining perfect in Ann Arbor. But it was a tight conference matchup, with the largest lead at eight and the teams trading baskets for much of the game.
"It reminded me of last years season where in the last 10 games most were decided with a big shot or a stop late in the game," Michigan coach John Beilein said.
But it’s the exact opposite of the beginning of last year’s conference season where the Wolverines started 0-2. In fact, it’s the best start Michigan has had since the 2002-03 season.
Player of the Game: Trey Burke. The freshman point guard continued not to look like a freshman. He shot 8-for-11 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from behind the arc for a team-high 27 points. Burke was the only player to score in double figures for the Wolverines. He showed off his midrange game, something Michigan fans haven’t seen too much of yet and went 9-for-11 from the free throw line.
"I was already comfortable playing with these guys, they make me feel really comfortable," Burke said. "They trust me like I trust them. They trust me to be able to find them when they’re open. They trust me to be able to score when I’m open."
In the final minutes, when Michigan was holding onto a very slim lead, Burke showed poise and confidence, something Beilein said Burke shows in practice every day.
"There’s sometimes he gets flustered or disappointed with himself, it’s very brief and he moves on," Beilein said. "He plays on after mistakes by himself or his teammates which is really refreshing."
The game turned when: the seniors took over. Seniors Stu Douglass and Zack Novak accounted for a 10-point swing with 12 minutes remaining. Douglass hit two 3-pointers and Novak scored twice from inside to give the Wolverines a much-needed push.
Once Douglass and Novak stepped up, other players did as well. But the Wolverines never really controlled the game until Novak knocked down two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining to give Michigan a five-point lead.
Tip-ins: Sophomore forward Jon Horford wore a boot on his right foot while sitting on the bench. Beilein said that nothing new has been determined about Horford’s status. … Redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, including the final rebound which led to Novak’s two free throws at the end. "They're obviously an athletic team," Morgan said. "We wanted to eliminate their second-chance points and make them take one shot and that way we could get out and run."