Monday, May 21, 2018
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Wolverines overrun Hawkeyes, excite fans

Michigan continues best start since 1986


Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III dunks over Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe during the second half Sunday at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. With a 95-67 win over Iowa, second-ranked UM continued its best start since 1986.


ANN ARBOR — Michigan basketball seemed to cross every inch of the spectrum over the last quarter-century — the great, the bad, and the Tommy Amaker era.

But the 12,693 fans who packed Crisler Center for the Wolverines’ Big Ten home opener Sunday have not witnessed a season quite like this.

With a 95-67 win over Iowa, second-ranked UM continued on its best start since 1986 and betrayed no sign the streak will end any time soon.

Sophomore guard Trey Burke had 19 points and a career-high 12 assists, freshman Glenn Robinson III poured in 20 points, and the Wolverines (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) delivered one haymaker after another.

They can match the program-record start set in 1986 with a home win Wednesday over sapless Nebraska before heading into a weekend showdown at No. 8 Ohio State.

Excavate deep enough Sunday, and you will find it was a game at one point. The Wolverines just made everyone forget.

After scoring 17 points over the first 13 minutes, Michigan poured in 60 over the next 20 in displaying the full depth of its offensive riches.

The Wolverines shot 58.1 percent (36 of 62) while four of their starters — Burke, Robinson III, Tim Hardaway, Jr., (19 points), and Nik Stauskas (13) — outscored Iowa (11-4, 0-2) by themselves.

"If we just continued to get stops, I knew the offense was going to come," Burke said.

Said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery: "They just have so many weapons. They're hard to keep under control for long periods of time."

There is a growing sense here and nationally the Wolverines have the pieces to win a national championship — and fans are embracing the ride. Even with students on winter break until Wednesday and a noon start, Crisler Arena was full from the opening tip.

It was not loud from the opening tip. Michigan made the crowd wait, leading an Iowa team that challenged No. 5 Indiana in its league opener for all of 33 seconds over the first 17 minutes.

But when the Wolverines awoke, they were up for good. A pivotal swing came with UM leading 31-29 and a rejection by freshman reserve Mitch McGary of 6-foot-8 Iowa forward Aaron White’s dunk attempt set off a fast-break score by Burke.

The Wolverines closed the half on a 17-6 run, then piled on early in the second half.

With Burke as the breakneck maestro, Michigan ran at every opportunity, and, by the second half, got virtually any shot it wanted.

Five players finished with dunks in transition — Robinson III had a pair of alley-oop slams — and UM hit 10 of 22 3-pointers.

"We needed this game," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We've been in a lot of games where 15 minutes into the first half, we had a double-digit lead. We didn't have that today. We closed the [first half] well, then we came into the second half and really opened the gates. I love that focus, that energy."

Beilein knows the Big Ten grind is coming, beginning with the trip to Columbus. But with more options than he knows what to do with, Beilein and the most talented team of his coaching career appear ready.

"We always thought as we were trying to develop a coaching philosophy with my staff that we wouldn't change if we got more athletic," Beilein said.

"Some of these principles will still work.. We've always run where ever I’ve been. We just run a little faster now and we jump a little higher.

"It's no disrespect to my other teams. But if some of my other teams saw this team out there, they would probably say — some of them might admit — ’Hey, I think theyre better than we were.’ But most of them probably wouldn't, and that's fine, too."

Contact David Briggs at: 419-724-6084 or onTwitter @ DBriggsBlade.

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