NEW YORK — Michigan’s star backcourt had quite a hand in keeping the third-ranked Wolverines unbeaten.
Trey Burke scored a season-best 27 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. matched his season high with 25 as Michigan beat West Virginia 81-66 on Saturday night at the Barclays Center.
The Wolverines (11-0) haven’t gotten off to this good a start since 1988-89 – the season they won the school’s only national championship.
“Both of them surprise me sometimes on what they can do,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “There’s still some things we can’t teach that they are able to do. Both have the same passion for the game and it shows.”
Burke and Hardaway both had solid all-around games in the backcourt. Burke was 12 of 16 from the field and had eight assists, while Hardaway was 7 of 12 and made half of his eight 3-point attempts.
Burke, the smaller of the two at 6-foot, was effective driving inside.
“It was just a matter of reading the defense,” Burke said. “They were pushing up screens when I came off and I was able to get deep into the paint.”
The 6-6 Hardaway was the outside threat and he said it was just a matter of him getting the ball at the right time.
“It was great that my teammates were finding me and trusting me,” he said.
Beilein wants Hardaway to keep shooting.
“Once he hits the first couple you hope it’s going to continue,” Beilein said. “I see him in practice every day. We want them to take the same shots in games that they make in practice and Tim makes those in practice.”
Freshman Terry Henderson had a season-high 23 points for the Mountaineers (4-5), who lost their second straight after a three-game winning streak. Juwan Staten had 12 points and five assists. The two guards were the only players to see more than 25 minutes of action.
Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins was upset with his team’s effort.
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of watching guys stand around. I’m sick of watching guys not compete,” Huggins said, not raising his voice. “I’m sick of watching guys missing shot after shot and then never coming early, never staying late. They don’t think about coming in on an off day. I’ve never had guys like this before. I want some guys that care.”
Michigan opened the game on a 24-7 run but the Mountaineers were able to get within five points twice before the Wolverines took a 43-32 halftime lead.
The Wolverines started the second half 9 of 16 from the field, a number that was made a lot better by West Virginia missing 12 of its first 15 shots over the same span.
Michigan led 54-36 on a drive by Burke with 17:04 to play. It looked as if the Wolverines would match their season average of winning every game by an average of 21 points.
West Virginia finally started making some shots and the Mountaineers were able to get within 71-64 on a 3 by Henderson with 4:28 to play.
The rally took its toll on West Virginia and the Wolverines were able to straighten things out and pull away.
“That’s what we do,” Henderson said. “We play that way in practice even in open gym. That’s who we are.”
West Virginia, which came in shooting 26.4 percent from 3-point range, finished 6 of 21 from behind the arc, 3 of 15 in the second half.
Michigan shot 56 percent from the field (28 of 50) with an almost even split in each half.
Wolverines reserve big man Jon Horford injured his left knee in the first half and never returned to the game.
“He dislocated his knee cap. He came back from a similar injury earlier in the year,” Beilein said. “We won’t know how serious it is until he gets examined. I don’t expect him back quickly. We hope it’s something he can come back from in 2, 3 weeks, even sooner.”
The game, the third in a tripleheader called Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, drew a crowd of 16,514.
“That was a great atmosphere for both teams,” Beilein said. “West Virginia travels well. We travel well. We knew we’d have to meet this kind of challenge. It may not have looked pretty but you can ask any coach and we will all take any win on the road or at a neutral site.”
Beilein was facing the school where he coached for five seasons before taking the Michigan job for the first time.
“My family and I have so many great memories of West Virginia,” Beilein said. “We respect West Virginia so much and that’s what makes it so good.”
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