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January 18, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-18

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8A - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

8A -Wedesda, Jnuay 18 202 Te Mihign Daly mihigadaiyco

Sophomore guard Tim HardawayJr. added 10 points in the Wolverines' 60-5ยง victory over Michigan State at Crisler Arena on Tuesday. It was Michigan's third consecutive win over the Spartans, the longest winning streak against MSU since 1991
Wolverines knock o ffSpartans again

By LUKE PASCH The Spartans retained the lead
Daily SportsEditor until Burke snagged a rebound on
the defensive end with 40 seconds
For the first time since 1998, to go and pushed the ball in tran-
Michigan has beaten Michigan sition. He started to go up with it
State in three straight meetings but instead dished to senior guard
on the hardwood. and co-captain Stu Douglass just
Following senior guard and before landing. Douglass finished
co-captain Zack Novak's open- with an easy layup to take the
ing 3-point- lead, 60-59.
er, No. 20 MSU 59 That would be the final score.
Michigan MICHIGAN 60 No. 9 Michigan State (4-2,15-4)
(5-2 Big Ten, got the ball to its leading scorer -
15-4 overall) led the whole contest senior forward Draymond Green
before relinquishing the lead with - for the final possession, bute ic
just under seven minutes left in failed to sink the last second, off-
the game after a Brandon Kearney balance shot from the foul line,
3-pointer from the corner. and Michigan closed out the win.
A minute later, freshman point Burke impressed in his rivalry
guard Trey Burke tied the con- debut, looking poised and pouring
test on a triple of his own from in a game-high 20 points on 8-of-
the top of the key, only to lose the 11 shooting. The young stud was
lead again on an Austin Thornton also stingy on the defensive end,
3-pointer that came seconds later. tallyingtwo blocks and two steals.

"Trey, like I've said before, he's
going to be a great player," said
sophomore guard Tim Hardaway
Jr. "He's going to be a great player,
and if he keeps on doing what he's
doing right now, I don't see why
(he wouldn't be) Big Ten Player of
the Year in upcoming years."
Douglass also played wellinhis
first start since the season opener
against Ferris State, always seemv
ingto deliver when his team need-
ed it most. He started in place of
struggling sophomore forward
Evan Smotrycz, who had shot a
miserable 2-of-19 from the field
over the previous three contests.
In the waning moments of the
first half, as Michigan State nearly
erased a 10-point deficit on a 9-0
run, Douglass nailed a 3-pointer,
getting fouled hard by a Spartan
defender. He went to the free-
throw line and completed the

four-point play to kill Michigan
State's momentum and help the
Wolverines take a 36-29 lead into
the locker room at halftime.
The play evoked images of
Novak's four-point play from
last season at the Breslin Center
in East Lansing. Michigan State
opened that contest with a 6-0
run, but Novak neutralized the
momentum on a 3-pointer from
the corner, while being fouled.
"If you don't want that last-
second shot, I don't know what
you're doing playing basketball,"
Douglass said.
Michigan had to overcome.a
couple of major disadvantages to
come out of this one with a vic-
tory. The Wolverines finished
just 6-for-21 from behind the arc
(28.6 percent), largely due to the
recent shooting woes of Hard-
away Jr. and Smotrycz, who were

combined 0-for-6 on the day. The
pair combined for a woeful 0-for-
12 from long range in Saturday's
game at Iowa as well.
Compare that to the Spartans,
who shot an efficient 7-for-15 from
downtown on clutch shooting.
"We did enough things to win
the game, we did enough things
to lose the game," said Michigan
State coach Tom Izzo. "But when
you do enough things to lose the
game, you're not going to win
them on the road, especially in
your rival's backyard."
The Spartans also did solid
work cleaning up the glass, out-
rebounding the Wolverines, 31-18,
and only allowing two offensive
boards from Michigan. But Mich-
igan coach John Beilein insists.
that that was part of the game
plan.
"We're not going to rebound

great in that game," he said. "We
sent three people back on every
possession - we weren't trying
to get offensive rebounds. ... We
were trying to take away their
transition game, so there's sort of
a method to our madness."
Ultimately, players agree that
one of the biggest advantages
Michigan had was the crowd at
the Crisler Center, which at times
was the loudest it's been this sea-
son. In all likelihood, it was the
loudest home crowd Burke has
ever played in front of
"The Maize Rage was great for
us, and they kept us energized
down the stretch," Burke said
with a smile on his face. "It feels
great, just to be able to give Zack
and Stu this win, them playing
against Michigan State their last
time here. That was the greatest
feeling."

Burke proves mettle in win

nu knowa player is truly
elite, is truly something
special, when he deserves
a nickname.
We're in an era that is, com-
pared to the
past, simply
embarrassing.
when it comes
to dishing out
nicknames.
Maybe our
generation ofY
sportswriters
just isn't cre- BEN
ative enough. ESTES
Maybe play-
ers are now
so reserved when dealing with
the media that they don't present
a persona to the press that leads
itself to an easy nickname.
In any case, these days, it's
pretty standard to just take
someone's full name and A-Rod
or D-Mo it. (I refuse to legitimize
the nickname "Butterfly" that
some tried to force on former
Michigan point guard Darius
Morris.) I bring this up because,
after the way he played in Michi-
gan's 60-59 win over Michigan
State on Tuesday night, Trey
Burke officially needs a nick-
name.
I vote for "Trey the Truth,"
though I worry that rapper Trae
Tha Truth isn't popular enough
for it to catch on widely. But
there's plenty of time to figure
out abetter one later on, since
it's clear that the freshman point
guard is going to be terrorizing
defenses - whether in the Big
Ten or in the NBA--for many
years to come. After leading all
scorers with 20 points and key-
ing the Wolverines to a huge win
over the Spartans - their third
straight in the in-state series,
proving that the rivalry is, once
again, a real rivalry - there's no
doubt left that Burke is the team's
best player.
Michigan coach John Beilein
(as well as the media) was reti-
cent for most of the season to go
too far in anointing Burke. After
all, despite earning the title of
Ohio's Mr. Basketball his senior
year of high school, Burke was
just an ordinary three-star
recruit, maybe a four-star to
some scouting services.

Burke really arrived at the
Maui Invitational, immediately
asserting himself in Michigan's
first game against Memphis.
Playing in such a big-time
atmosphere against so many
teams, the Columbus native
was unfazed. He even seemed
to thrive in the limelight. That
should have been the first clue
as to Burke's true potential -
the great ones live for the big
moments and rise to them, using
those times to lift theminselves to
heights they couldn't otherwise
reach.
"I just felt like I had to make
big plays," Burke said after the
Michigan State game. "Coach
Beilein told me one of my jobs
was to make big plays tonight,
to get the team what we want
every time down on offense.... I
can't say I was the best player out
there. There were just times out
there I had to make a big play for
my team."
Maybe Burke can't say that
he was the best player out there,
but I'll say it for him. And those
big moments are the reason why.
All night he was responsible for
the most important momentum
plays for Michigan. There was
his and-one layup, followed by
his trap of Michigan State guard
Travis Trice, which forced Trice
to burn a timeout with 9:34 left
in the first half. The Spartans cut
into the Wolverines' lead later in
the frame, and Burke responded
by stealing the ball in the back-
court and scoring over Draymond
Green. His play gave Michigan its
first double-digit lead of the night,
and it was the loudest Crisler Cen-
ter has been in my two years cov-
ering the team (though not as loud
as when the final horn sounded.)
Burke saved his best for when
the Wolverines needed it the
most, scoring when Michigan
State stole the lead and the
momentum, and when he was
no doubt the most tired. With
Michigan down three points
with 5:29 left in the game, Burke
calmly launched a 3-pointer from
NBA range to tie it back up. A
minute later, down four points,
he attacked the rim and hita foul
shot to cutthe deficit once more.
And somehow, some way,
Burke avoided getting swallowed

by Green and two other players
in transition with 35 seconds left,
deftly weaving and flipping the
ball to senior guard Stu Douglass
for the winningbasket.
He was the only player doing
anything for Michigan on offense
in those instances and in other
long stretches against the tena-
cious Spartan defense.
"That kid walks the walk, so
he can talk the talk," said senior
guard Zack Novak. "I've told him,
whatever he says, I'll back him
100 percent."
How funny it now seems that
Wolverine fans were worried
about how the team would be
able to replace Morris. Obviously,
you'd want both players on your
squad, but there's no doubt that,
if forced to pick, you'd go with
Burke - even the freshman ver-
sion - every time. And ina situa-
tion like the NCAA Tournament
game against Duke, who would
you rather have taking a last shot?
Morris, who could never figure
out how to shoot consistenly?
Or Burke, who can hit any sort
of jumper that he damn well
pleases? Perhaps Burke will break
down soon, will hit the prover-
bial freshman wall. It's a valid
concern, considering he averages
34.5 minutes a game, the highest
on the team. But I'm not worried
about it. He just seems to have
that extra something that will
keep that from happening. He's
not like most other players in that
regard, like Spartan guard Keith
Appling, who coach Tom Izzo
said was too fatigued atthe end of
the game. (Appling, a sophomore,
only played 31 minutes.)
This isn't a slight to Tim Hard-
away Jr. or any other Michigan
player, but rather a statement
about Burke's ability. He'll bethe
engine that drives the Wolverines
for as long as he's around Ann
Arbor. After the game, I asked
Beilein where his team would
have been without Burke.
"Don't want to even think
about that," he said.
No need to. Burke is there, and
Michigan need onlybe thankful
for that. Someone get this guy a
nickname.
Estes can be reached at
benestes@umich.edu.

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