By DAVID MERCER/Associated Press
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – Freshman Nick Stauskas scored 22 points in his first start and No. 3 Michigan survived a late run to beat Bradley 74-66 on Saturday.
Stauskas started for Matt Vogrich and delivered early with eight first-half points to help the Wolverines (7-0) hold onto a narrow halftime lead, 34-30.
Walt Lemon Jr. led Bradley (5-2) on a late run to close to 70-65 with half a minute to play. But the Braves were forced to foul and the Wolverines held on to win.
Stauskas finished it with a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left in the game before heading to the bench for good to congratulations from coaches and teammates alike.
Trey Burke added 16 in the Wolverines’ first trip to Bradley since 1997. Glenn Robinson III scored 13 and Jordan Morgan scored 10 and pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Wolverines’ last trip to Carver Arena ended in a loss, 74-67.
But this Wolverine team came in already enjoying its best start under John Beilein, and loaded with weapons.
Lemon and fellow guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards kept two of those weapons, Burke and Tim Hardaway, under control.
And when Lemon glided to the basket with 26 seconds left in the first half and delivered a soft, easy layup, the Braves were down just 34-30, exciting the huge crowd.
Lemon led Bradley with 15 points. Tyshon Pickett added 11 for the Braves and Will Egolf chipped in 10.
But Egolf – who had eight of his points in the first half – picked up his fourth foul early in the second and headed to the bench for most of the final 20 minutes.
With him out, the game turned and the Braves found they couldn’t account for Stauskus.
Just under four minutes into the second half, he buried a 3-pointer – he hit four of his five 3s – that put Michigan up 42-32.
Drifting back from the basket, he watched the shot fall, held up three fingers as it dropped and allowed himself a little smile.
The shot was part of 13-4 run that helped the Wolverines buy some breathing room, up 45-34.
Lemon orchestrated Bradley’s late run. His layup with 28 seconds to play cut the deficit to 70-65.
But the Braves were forced to foul and the rally ended. Egolf fouled out with less than a minute left.
The Wolverines return home Tuesday to face Western Michigan. Bradley hosts George Washington on Tuesday.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)