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November 9, 2012

Trey Burke overcomes slow start to put up big numbers

When Trey Burke officially announced he was returning to Michigan for his sophomore campaign - and when he subsequently talked of Final Fours in the offseason while putting in work at the new player development center - he didn't envision stat lines like the one he sported at halftime of the Wolverines season-opening win over Slippery Rock.

After the first 30 minutes, Michigan held a more-precarious-than-anticipated 44-30 lead over The Rock, and Burke had hit just 3-of-10 shots for eight total points, and he sported a 1:1 turnover-to-assist ratio, tallying four apiece.

"I think he was so excited to get back out there, playing with his teammates, probably going too quick. You know the old John Wooden deal: be quick but don't hurry. He hurried some things," John Beilein said.

But the sophomore point guard went of in the final stanza, helping Michigan to a 11-62 win.

After the break, Burke hit 6-of-7 shots and added four more assists, while turning it over just once more. He finished with 21 points.

"I think when we first came out, we were a little excited," Burke said of the somewhat sluggish first half. "It's the first game, and it was moving quick. We knew Slippery Rock was an experienced, good team. It was a fast, quick game, and we came out playing at their pace. Once we settled down, got relaxed and comfortable out there, we were fine.

"At halftime, Coach Beilein talked about us taking care of the ball in transition. I had six turnovers overall, and a few of them came in the first half in transition, just rushing a little bit. It's something we definitely can fix."

Not only did Burke light up the box score in the second half, but he played more smoothly within the system, opening up things for other scorers, like junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., who finished with a game-high 25 points and freshman Glenn Robinson III, who added 10 points.

"I loved his pace in the second half," Beilein said. "I don't think you'll see those five turnovers very often. Just trying a little too hard."

Beilein admitted that Slippery Rock was very concerned with Burke's slashing ability, doing what they could to crash on him when he tried to get in the lane.

"They were not guarding our five man on the perimeter. They were daring him to shoot. That way, they plug up all the driving lanes for Trey," Beilein said. "When we see that defense, his man becomes the primary screener, and there's no help. If they were going to play way off Mitch and Jordan, we were just going to screen them and let Trey shoot those little 15-footers. He's pretty good at those."

"I just stayed with my shot," Burke said of his second-half explosion. "Coach kept telling me the nail hole right there at the free-throw line was open. The big wasn't coming out. In the first half, I kind of forced my 3-point shot a little bit. I think I was a little flat in the first half. My teammates kept encouraging me and giving me looks. I was taking what they were giving me."


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