Nov. 28, 2012
By Morgan Bailey, U-M Public & Media Relations
In the past two games for the University of Michigan men's basketball team, sophomore point guard Trey Burke has been held scoreless in the first half, yet the Wolverines have pulled off the victory in both cases.
Last week against Kansas State (Nov. 23), in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game, Burke was unable to score in the first half yet came back in the second to add 10 points for the Wolverines. His second-half performance, along with his 17-point performance against Pittsburgh (Nov. 21), garnered him all-tournament honors.
On Tuesday night (Nov. 27) against North Carolina State, Burke once again had zero points at the half. However, a different statistic made a greater statement for the point guard. In 18 minutes of play, Burke tallied nine assists, meeting his previous career high.
Not allowing the scoreless first half to deter him the rest of the game, Burke scored 18 points in the second half and finished with a career-high 11 assists, reaching his first career double-double, leading the Wolverines to a 79-72 victory over the Wolfpack in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Burke was the first Wolverine since Darius Morris during the 2010-11 season to record more than 10 assists in a game, and he did so with zero turnovers in 37 minutes of play.
"I was happy about the double-double," Burke remarked with a grin after the game. "The coaches have been teasing me, giving me the challenge to reach 10 assists. At the half, I was telling myself to continue staying patient. I knew that the defense's plan was to collapse in on me, so it was my job to get guys going early."
"Trey is a player that isn't looking at how many points he has," head coach John Beilein remarked. "He's looking at if we're winning, and if he is playing well -- he did that tonight. He had five turnovers in our last game against Kansas St. -- he wasn't too happy with that. He came out tonight with the intention of taking care of the ball, protecting the ball, and he did just that."
With 11 of the Wolverines' 14 total assists, Burke continued to penetrate into the paint, causing the defense to collapse in on him and leave his teammates open. The rest of the Wolverines capitalized on Burke's unselfish play, especially shooting guards Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, who scored 20 points and 11 points, respectively, tonight.
"Trey is an NBA-caliber point guard," Stauskas commented. "I know that when he gets into the lane and people close in on him, he's going to find me, and that is exactly what he did today."
Robinson also commented on the benefits of having Burke generate opportunities for the rest of the team, "It means a lot to have Trey creating those scoring opportunities. Nik and I are shooters, and with Trey creating penetration in the lane and dishing it out to us, it shows how good of a point guard he is. He can see the entire floor, which is important for the team, and he is very unselfish."
More impressive than Burke's individual statistics, however, is how the Wolverines have fired on all cylinders, even when their second-leading scorer is not registering points. The depth of the Wolverines has been a source of preseason excitement, and it has continued to propel Michigan when they are in need.
Against N.C. State, the Wolverines had four players score in double digits, including Burke, Stauskas and Robinson, as well as Hardaway, who posted 16 points.
"We have a lot of guys that can score the ball in a lot of different ways on this team," Stauskas remarked. "Whether it's down in the post or shooting threes or getting to the basket on a dribble drive, we have a lot of people who can do everything. If one guy is being shut off, we have a lot of guys that will step up and get the job done."
Although Burke led the Wolverines in scoring and assists, he credits his team for all his statistics. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Burke said. "It was definitely a team achievement."
With the Big Ten/ACC challenge victory under their belt, the Maize and Blue remain undefeated as they head to Peoria, Ill., on Saturday (Dec. 1) to face Bradley at 3 p.m. CST.
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