Michigan basketball takes control early, settles for 63-50 win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Jeff Sainlar | AnnArbor.com
The cupcake portion of Michigan basketball team's 2011-12 season is officially underway.
The Wolverines did, in fact, indulge their sweet tooth Tuesday, but once again faced a recurring late-game issue.
No. 20 Michigan went on a 19-0 first-half run and didn't look back, leading by as many as 25 points in the second half before settling for a 63-50 win over visiting Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Crisler Arena.
"I loved the way we played in the first half," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "But we had far too many turnovers in the second half to get away from them and really get some time for some of our bench guys.
"But, that's the way it happens sometimes. We'll learn from it."
During the final 5:08, Michigan went 0-for-4 from the floor with two turnovers.
"We didn't play championship basketball today," said Michigan senior captain Zack Novak, who finished with five points, five rebounds and six assists. "We got a win, but this is not going to work in the Big Ten.
"We played 30 minutes of really good basketball, it's just the finishing portion (that's a problem)."
Michigan freshman point guard Trey Burke continued the impressive start to his collegiate career, dropping in 15 points to go along with seven assists and six rebounds in 37 minutes.
Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds and the Wolverines (8-2) knocked down 13 3-pointers on the day, shooting an even 50 percent from behind the arc as a team.
Smotrycz did cough up the ball five times, though, as Michigan finished with 19 total turnovers -- giving the Wolverines 36 turnovers in their last two games.
"That's something we've got to work on," Burke said of the turnovers. "All five (players) have to identify the different looks the defense is throwing at us."
Defensively, Michigan held Arkansas-Pine Bluff -- which has played seven-straight road games to open the season -- to 35.8 percent shooting from the floor. Lazabian Jackson paced the Golden Lions (1-6) with a game-high 23 points.
UAPB had a glimmer of hope four minutes into the game, after a Jackson 3-pointer put the Golden Lions up 6-5, but that glimmer soon faded to total darkness.
Smotrycz ended a 10-0 Michigan run three minutes later with a pair of foul shots before a deep triple by Burke and a breakout layup by Tim Hardaway Jr. made it 20-6 Wolverines with 12 minutes to go in the half.
The run would reach 19-0 four minutes later after a Matt Vogrich tip-in.
UAPB finally ended an eight-minute scoring drought after a Jackson bucket with 7:30 to play, and when Savalace Townsend sent in a 3-pointer to make it 32-11 with 3:20 left, the Michigan student section began a mocking chant of "double digits."
That sentiment pretty much summed things up. The Wolverines took a 37-17 lead into halftime.
The only troubling first-half moment for Michigan came with less than two minutes to play, when Hardaway fell awkwardly to the floor after fouling Jackson on a 3-pointer.
Hardaway stayed on the ground in pain for roughly 20 seconds before being helped back to the bench. The injury proved minor, though, as he started the second half and finished the game with eight points in 19 minutes of action.
Following the game, Beilein said Hardaway had a tailbone bruise that will require plenty of ice. He did not expect the sophomore to miss any game time because of it, however.
Vogrich, who entered the game shooting just 7.7 percent from 3-point range, finished with 11 points -- going 3-for-5 from deep.
Michigan sophomore forward Jon Horford did not play, as he continues to nurse an injury to his right foot.
The Wolverines out-rebounded UAPB 36-26 and handed out 17 assists as a team.
Michigan returns to action at noon Saturday when it hosts Alabama A&M, and according to Beilein, finishing will be a top priority.
"We really need better focus," he said. "They have to learn from this experience today."
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