Tim Hardaway Jr. laps Chris Webber, Tractor Traylor on his way up Michigan's scoring list
ANN ARBOR -- After struggling to find any flow during Michigan's loss at Ohio State a week prior, Tim Hardaway Jr. entered Minnesota's Williams Arena with one goal in mind.
"Tim was saying we had to have the mindset that when we came off the plane, we were down by 10," Michigan freshman wing Nik Stauskas said after Michigan's 83-75 win over the Golden Gophers. "That's the mentality he wanted us to have, and that's what we did."
Michigan accomplished that feat against a charged up Minnesota club almost exclusively because of Hardaway early in the game.
The 6-foot-6 junior guard scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half, and Michigan overcame its early-season road jitters with an impressive victory over the Golden Gophers.
Hardaway is halfway through his junior campaign, and the issues that seemed to consistently plague him through an up and down sophomore year appear to be almost entirely on their way out.
"We're going to get everybody's best shot now, especially being ranked as high as we are," Hardaway said. "It's not just myself, my teammates are doing a great job of getting stops on defense and not forcing anything offensively.
"Not just taking the first shot we see."
Though Hardaway used the word "we" there, he may as well have used the phrase "I," as his overall effort seems to have improved in just about every area this season.
He's averaging a career-best 16.4 points per game, while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range -- up from the 28.3 percent he shot a year ago.
Hardaway's also hitting the glass and handing out more assists than ever, averaging 5.4 boards and 2.6 assists per game -- also career-bests as of now.
In addition, he continues to climb up Michigan's all-time scoring list. Hardaway presently sits with 1,258 career points -- good for 31st ever. He's recently passed both Chris Webber and Robert "Tractor" Traylor, and if he maintains his current average, he'll break into the top 20 by the end of the regular season.
But, more importantly for the present, Hardaway's shown an ability to carry himself with more maturity this season -- which benefits both he and the Wolverines equally.
"He's got a presence on this team," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Both offensively and defensively.
"And it's really making our guys go."
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