ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Quick thoughts from No. 3 Michigan’s 79-72 victory over No. 18 North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Overview: Opponents are learning that Michigan is going to be a difficult team to stop this season.
The Wolverines proved Tuesday they have multiple options who can take over a game when needed. During one stretch in the first half against NC State, the combination of Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan had 18 consecutive points. Entering Tuesday, the three were the Wolverines’ fourth-, fifth- and sixth-leading scorers, respectively.
Despite Michigan's controlling most of the game, NC State hung around, cutting the Wolverines' lead to five, 73-68, with 2 minutes, 11 seconds left after a T.J. Warren layup. The Wolfpack came back mostly with defense, forcing the Wolverines into tough, late shot-clock possessions and pressuring Michigan’s freshmen when they had the ball. In the final two minutes, Michigan had three freshmen on the floor -- Stauskas, McGary and Glenn Robinson III.
The Wolfpack had a chance to turn it into a one-possession game, but an offensive foul on C.J. Leslie and a traveling call thwarted the comeback bid.
Turning point: Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke scored his first basket almost 23 minutes into the game, a 3-pointer to give Michigan a 50-42 lead. He quickly scored 10 of Michigan’s next 12 points and in the process pushed the Wolverines to a 59-46 edge with 13:27 left. It would be a cushion Michigan would need.
Key player: Burke. His complete stat line had two odd halves. Burke had nine assists -- tying a then-career high -- in the first half but no points. By the end of the game, Burke had 18 points and a now-career-high 11 assists, the first double-double of his career. Even more important for Michigan is how Burke gets other players involved.
Key stat: 2. Michigan turned the ball over only twice in the second half, which was crucial, as NC State cut the Wolverines' lead to five points -- with the ball -- on multiple occasions. Burke, Michigan’s primary ball handler, was key there. His 11 assists also came with no turnovers.
Miscellaneous: Tim Hardaway Jr., with 16 points, passed Campy Russell and Zack Novak to move into 40th place in career scoring at Michigan with 1,087 points. Next up for him is M.C. Burton with 1,115. ... NC State’s Rodney Purvis really struggled to find his shot. The 50 percent 3-point shooter shot only one 3-pointer and was held scoreless in the first half before finishing with six points.
Next game: Michigan goes on the road to face Bradley on Saturday in a return game of a home-and-home started last season, when Michigan coach John Beilein’s son Patrick was on the staff there. Patrick Beilein is now the head coach at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan. NC State faces Connecticut on Dec. 4.