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Posted on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

Michigan basketball team topples Michigan State thanks to its rising star, Trey Burke

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan freshman point guard Trey Burke scored 20 points and played solid defense against Michigan State.

Melanie Maxwell |

The question was a simple one, yet Trey Burke had to shift in place before answering, choosing his words carefully.

Trey, were you the best player on the court?

The fact this question can be posed to a true freshman who is playing alongside Tim Hardaway Jr. is impressive. The fact the answer just might be yes, even more so.

He wouldn't say he was the best, but his hesitation provides a brief glimpse into the confidence of the Michigan basketball team's precocious point guard.


Want to talk more about the game? Stop by Nick Baumgardner’s lunchtime basketball chat, which fires up at noon on Wednesday on He’ll discuss the victory, what it means in the Big Ten race and anything else you want to talk about.
"I wouldn't say that," he said finally. "I just feel like I had to make big plays. Coach (John) Beilein told me one of my jobs was just to make big plays tonight."

Burke has made those plays throughout the season, and he did again Tuesday night, pouring in a team-high 20 points to help the No. 20 Wolverines (15-4, 5-2) seal a 60-59 victory against chief rival Michigan State.

He was a cool 8-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers, and added three assists, two steals and two blocks. He thoroughly outplayed his counterpart, Michigan State sophomore Keith Appling, in a matchup of budding point guards.

Whether or not he's the Wolverines' best player, it's clear they wouldn't have won this game without him.

"Guys like him make me look like the best captain in the country because I don't have to do anything," senior Zack Novak said. "I knew he had talent. I knew he was a really good player. I would never expect a freshman to come in and act the way he has and carry himself the way he does."

It was Michigan's third consecutive victory against the No. 9 Spartans (15-4, 4-2), in a game both teams were ranked. The tide of this rivalry is changing, and Michigan's ability to reboot with players such as Burke is a big reason why.

It's what top programs do.

"The coaches told me to just look at it as a regular game ... but this was definitely the biggest rivalry I've ever played in," Burke said. "I look at it as like a Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, just because of the way we were battling out there. I'm out there gasping for air."

Burke, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, didn't just fill up the stat sheet, either. He came up big in big moments, such as on a deep 3-pointer with 5:29 left that stemmed a 21-9 Michigan State run and tied the game at 52-52.

"The whole game, they kind of gave me different looks off the screen," Burke said. "I came off the pick, big (Derrick) Nix would hedge hard. Sometimes, they'd go under. That time they went under and I was pretty deep, but I felt like I could hit the shot.

"We were down three, it would have been a big shot, so I took it, and I hit it."

His biggest play of all, though, came with less than 40 seconds left after he grabbed a loose ball and drove the length of the court. He lost control of the ball as two defenders swarmed him, then found senior guard Stu Douglass for a go-ahead layup that made it 60-59 with 36.5 seconds left.

It proved to be the game-winning shot.

"After my third dribble, I felt someone hit the ball out of my hand," Burke said. "Just kind of popped it up, and then I caught it, hop step, jump step, and then I saw Stu out of the corner of my eye wide open.

"It was kind of luck tonight, and we took it."

Burke clarified, though, that it wasn't chance. He believes he, and Michigan, make their own luck. It culminated with a heart-pounding, 31-second possession by Michigan State that got forward Draymond Green a clean look at a leaning 15-footer.

The shot was long, and Michigan came away with perhaps its biggest win of the year.

"When you play defense like that, you tend to have some luck like that," Burke said.

"We took it."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Frank Legacki

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Darius who?????


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

If the other starters can improve their game because of Trey Burke's inpiration, playing ability and desire; this team will go a long way. The potential is to the upside. I hope Trey Burke does not wear down given the grind of the schedule the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Tom Izzo made alot of excuses about his players wearing down last night. My gosh, Michigan played at least as many games as Sparty the past few weeks but were much more amped up. Perhaps Coach Beilein knows how better to rest his players in between all these games.

Tom Carr

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Hi, folks. I'm a long-time Michigan State fan. I thought last night's game was exciting and interesting, with both teams playing lots of good basketball and a bit of bad basketball. Michigan State's second-half comeback from 11 down was deeply gratifying. Michigan's defense during the last couple of minutes -- and especially on the last two possessions -- was spectacular. In my view, Burke is the next great Big Ten guard (and there have been a lot of them). But don't count Appling out. He's very good, too, and he'll learn from this matchup -- just check out his comments in post-game interviews. Both teams will be there at the end when seedings are handed out for March Madness. Oh -- one last thing. I thought it was cute that Izzo ate a random object -- and it saved us a technical foul for what he would have said if he hadn't had his mouth full! The bottom line is that these two historically great basketball programs are both great again at the same time. So game on, and this is fun!


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Thank you for having class Tom, we respect MSU B-Ball and it's nice to have a respectful comment from an MSU fan for a change, good luck the rest of the way unless you play U-M of course. Looks like a fun season is continuing, Go Blue!!!


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Thank you and I do expect this to be a better rivalry.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Really? Burke "thoroughly outplayed" Appling? Appling still had 10 pts and more assists than Burke. This was all while he was in foul trouble the entire second half forcing him to sit more! The only thing Burke did better than Appling was hit 3s. All of Applings points came off of drives while Burke simply shot the ball better in one game. I really don't ever expect Michigan to ever shoot like they did in the 1st half again.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

"eating random objects" haha.. GoBlue! v


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Izzo was a sad clown tonight....lots of tears.....and eating random objects...while standing 12 feet from his bench in the middle of the game....


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:49 a.m.

Watching Izzo lose his mind was almost as enjoyable as the win itself. Reminded me of our other friend, Mr. Kelly.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:04 a.m.

Burke played great tonight, and seems to be getting better and better. This team is fun to watch. And of course, 3 in a row vs Sparty is always cool.