The #3 ranked Michigan Wolverines (6-0) knocked off #18 NC State (4-2) 79-72, doing their part in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Michigan tried to pull away from the Wolfpack several times but the talented NC State team kept fighting until the final whistle.
The win is a solid one for Michigan as NC State represented the highest ranked team Michigan will see during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Trey Burke paved the way with 18 points and 11 assists. All 18 of his points came after halftime as he played the role of distributor in the 1st half with 9 assists. The 11 assists is a new high water mark for Burke as he continues to build his legend at Michigan.
Interestingly, the Wolfpack outshot Michigan from the field 57% to 50% on the night. The Wolfpack also outrebounded Michigan 30-22. A big difference in the game were the 9 made 3-pointers by Michigan to just 2 for Mark Gottfried’s crew.
The other x-factor that gave Michigan a substantial edge was the floor game run by Burke. He played 37 minutes and didn’t commit a single turnover. As a team, Michigan coughed up the ball just 6 times to 13 for NC State.
And if winning the game wasn’t enough gratification for Burke, he became the #1 trending topic on Twitter on this night. Michigan basketball is on the map.
Freshman sensation Nik Stauskas poured in a career-high 20 points on the night via 6-10 shooting (4-7 from deep). Tim Hardaway, Jr. was a brutal 1-9 from long range (7-18 overall) but still played a solid game with 16 points and 3 rebounds.
Mitch McGary played his best game as a Wolverine as he was hustling all night and lived up to the billing of a 6’9’’ Zack Novak. McGary had 8 points, 5 rebounds, a block, and drew a big charge late in the game that had Gottfried all hot and bothered on the NC State bench.
With Michigan up 75-70, McGary hit the deck as star forward CJ Leslie was backing him down. The call was definitely questionable and not one that a freshman big man is generally going to get. Credit McGary with max effort on the play and down the stretch for Michigan.
The diverse Leslie led NC State with 16 points, 10 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Before fouling out, TJ Warren was a handful for the Wolverine defense. He put up 18 points on 8-10 shooting to go along with 10 boards before leaving with his 5th foul.
NC State is a long and athletic team with a ton of talent. Once they all get on the same page they are going to be a handful in the ACC. When the season winds down come March, Michigan will be able to look back and truly appreciate how good this win really was.
After the game, Michigan talked of chemistry and depth and how one man is no more important than the next. In other words, they’re talking like champions.
Up next for Michigan is a game at Bradley on Saturday, tip is scheduled for 4pm (EST).
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We caught up with Stauskas after the game and learned a little bit more about his Canadian roots and some interesting facts on Alanis Morissette and Justin Bieber.