Michigan PG Trey Burke's evolution continues with unusual double-double
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan was 16-3 last year when Trey Burke scored at least 14 points, but just 8-7 when he didn't.
The Wolverines were a good team -- a Big Ten champion -- but would go only as far as Burke's scoring would take them.
That, clearly, is no longer the case.
Burke was held scoreless in the first half Tuesday night against North Carolina State, the No. 18 team in the country. And yet, Michigan held a 43-36 lead -- a feat unlikely last year.
"That would have been difficult," coach John Beilein said.
Of course, Burke also racked up nine assists in that first half -- then exploded for 18 points in the second half of the No. 3 Wolverines' 79-72 win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
He finished with 11 assists for his first career double-double.
Oh, and he didn't commit a turnover.
"(The coaches) told me before the game I'm going to have to make the reads. 'Don't force it, stay poised and hit the guys who are open in their spots,' and that's what I did in the first half,'" Burke said. "Though I didn't have any points, I knew it was important for me to get guys going early because it would carry to the second half.
"It's not negative at all. I sense (not scoring), of course, but it's just something I'm going to take from the defense. ... It wasn't there -- what was there was getting deep into the paint and kicking it out to Nik (Stauskas) and to Tim (Hardaway Jr.). And it got guys going, and got the confidence level going."
That, it did.
While Burke was held scoreless in the first half, Stauskas had a game-high 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting -- including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers. Hardaway added 11.
Burke assisted on nine of Hardaway's 11, as well as two Stauskas 3-pointers.
He matched his career high for assists -- nine -- before halftime.
And as a sign of his growth, it didn't bother him one bit that he didn't score. It would have last year, he said.
"This year, it wasn't something that bothered me," Burke said. "In the first half, NC State did a great job of shutting down the paint. Every time I got there, another defender would be there. But Nik did a great job -- he hit a lot of big shots -- and Tim hit some big shots. It was just a matter of making the right reads.
"Last year, I may have forced it a little bit in the first half. This year, I know we have more weapons and guys can score, and that'll open up me and everyone on the bench. It's just a matter of making the read on what the defense gives me."
In the second half, North Carolina State sagged out more to stop Michigan's outside shooting, and that's when Burke took advantage.
He hit the hole hard creating for himself, and also hit a pair of 3-pointers off high screens.
In the end, he didn't really play all that different in the two halves, even though one yielded nine assists and no points, while the other 18 points and two assists.
Burke simply took what the defense gave him, allowing the game to come to him. And Michigan has the scoring options around him to be dangerous, even when he's not carrying the scoring load.
That's one reason why Michigan (6-0) appears primed to make the jump from good to great.
"Last year, sometimes the offense would be stagnant (if I didn't score) and guys would be used to just seeing the pick-and-roll 3-pointer, or pick-and-roll to the basket," Burke said. "But with guys like Glenn who can catch alley-oops and Nik who can hit 3s, it's just a different feeling this year.
"It's just a matter of me making the right read, bottom line."
Beilein says Burke has transformed, going from a score-first player in high school to a facilitator for a multidimensional offense this year.
"When you're the player of the year in Ohio, and his last year especially, he was a guy that was scoring a lot of points," Beilein said.
"Now he has to trust the guys around him, and he does."