The Michigan basketball team (5-0), ranked 4th nationally and looking every bit the part, took down the competition in the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. The Wolverines capped off the 4-game run with a tourney-clinching win over Kansas State on Friday evening by the final count of 71-57.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. probably played his best game as a collegian before taking a knee to the side of the head in the waning minutes of the game. Hardaway appeared a bit woozy as he left the court with 3:37 remaining and headed straight to the locker room.
Before exiting, TH2 chewed up the K-State defense on 10-15 shooting for a 23-point output. He continues to be a force on the glass as he hauled in 7 more rebounds, and added a steal and an emphatic block on the defensive end of the floor.
Hardaway has taken the wheel of this team and is steering them toward some impressive early season basketball. The void left in leadership via the departures of Zack Novak and Stu Douglass is quickly becoming a non-issue. And to see Hardaway shake down Will Spradling with the “killer crossover” made famous by his dad doesn’t hurt either.
Aside from Hardaway’s statement game, John Beilein got a balanced attack from his enlarged 11-man rotation. Glenn Robinson III had 9 points and 11 rebounds. Trey Burke ran a great floor game against a scrappy K-State defense on his way to 10 points, 6 boards, and 4 assists.
Off of a vastly improved bench, Michigan got 10 points from Nik Stauskas and 6 apiece from Mitch McGary and Jon Horford.
Kansas State was led by Rodney McGruder’s 16 points. Michigan’s defense completely nullified Spradling who was just 1-9 for 3 points.
The Wolverines continue to dominate early on in terms of rebounding margin. They out-boarded the Wildcats 40-28 in what is becoming the new norm for the once challenged rebounding teams that Michigan has featured in recent years.
Up next is a Tuesday night matchup in the Big 10/ACC Challenge. The Wolverines will play host to NC State, currently ranked 16th. Hopefully Hardaway is ok and ready to go in what will be the first of many highly anticipated home games on the 2012-13 slate.
As the final seconds wore off the clock, the Michigan-partisan crowd broke out into a “Beat Ohio” chant in preparation of Saturday’s edition of “The Game”. As exciting as that matchup is, the most prolific team in Ann Arbor these days happens to be the boys on the hardwood.