Trey Burke having the most fun he's ever had as No. 2 Michigan scores another Big Ten rout
ANN ARBOR -- When Trey Burke said he was returning to Michigan to compete for a national championship last April, some people thought he was just caught up in the moment.
When he said it a second time a few weeks later, people thought he was bold, but probably biting off a bit more than he could chew.
But now, after bludgeoning Iowa, 95-67, on Sunday for a second straight 28-point Big Ten win to hit 15-0, the Michigan basketball is starting to look like the freight train Burke envisioned when he spurned the NBA for another year in school.
Undefeated, No. 2 in the country, completely on a roll? Anyone still wondering why he came back?
"I just knew, in the summer time when the freshmen came in and they were eager to learn, just by their talent level (that we'd be really good)," Burke said Sunday. "Once they learned the offense and learned the defense I pretty much knew.
"We could do something special here."
Burke put together another stellar performance Sunday, posting 19 points and a career-high 12 assists, giving him an absurd assist-turnover ratio of 79-11 over his last 10 games.
And, Sunday, all the pieces he knew he'd be surrounded by this season did their part to prove him right once again.
Glenn Robinson III played above the rim and out-muscled players taller and heavier than him, going for 20 points and 10 rebounds. Mitch McGary out-hustled just about everyone, finishing with 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to evolve, going for 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists -- and sharpshooter Nik Stauskas managed to muddle through an "off" night by going 3 of 6 from downtown for 13 points.
Add all this up, and Burke can only smile. Fifteen games into his sophomore season, and the Columbus native has absolutely no regrets about coming back -- as he says this is the most fun he's ever had playing the game he's loved all his life.
"This is a team with chemistry on the court and off the court," Burke says. "We all bought in.
"And we all can play."
Yes, they can.
After struggling to find their stride through the game's first 13 minutes Sunday, Michigan flipped its switch just before halftime -- and almost electrocuted everyone inside the sold out Crisler Center in the process.
The Wolverines hit nine straight shots to close the first half, 10 straight overall. In the game's final 27 minutes, Michigan scored 78 points -- mainly by beating Iowa at its own game.
The Hawkeyes like to run, but Michigan outscored Iowa 16-0 in fast break points. Iowa only turned the ball over seven times, but Michigan converted those cough-ups into 15 points.
The Wolverines scored 44 points in the paint, went 10 of 22 from 3-point range and assisted on 24 of 36 made field goals.
In other words, they completely dominated a Big Ten opponent for a second time in four days.
"We just wanted to show that intensity," Hardaway said. "We wanted to show we could grind it out."
Michigan put itself into a 7-0 hole early in this one. Its transition defense wasn't perfect early, and intensity was lacking -- but John Beilein wasn't mad.
He wanted to see how his team responded to a situation like that, as it hasn't faced much adversity at all this season.
"We needed that, guys," Beilein said. "We've played a lot of games where 15 minutes into the first half we might have had a double-digit lead, we didn't have that today.
"We closed well, and then we came out in the second half and really played good from the get-go ... love that focus."
As for Burke? Sunday was another day at the office.
He expected to have a season like this. He expected his team to be capable of beating people like this. He wasn't making declarations in April for his health -- he knew this could happen.
And now that it is, he's loving every minute of it.
"When we're just playing, we let the ball talk," Burke said with a chuckle. "And when the ball talks, we have a lot of options."
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