Top-Ranked Michigan Rolls Past Northwestern 68-46
NOAH TRISTER,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Trey Burke had 18 points and eight assists, and No. 1 Michigan was nearly flawless at the start Wednesday night en route to a 68-46 victory over Northwestern.
The Wolverines made 10 of their first 11 shots and went the entire first half without a turnover. They didn’t commit a foul, either, until the final minute of the half.
Michigan took over the top spot in the AP poll this week for the first time since the 1992-93 season. The Wolverines can now prepare for Saturday night’s showdown at No. 3 Indiana.
Michigan played without forward Jordan Morgan, who sprained his right ankle last weekend.
Alex Olah scored 10 points for Northwestern.
The Wolverines finished with only two turnovers. They didn’t have any until 6-foot-10 freshman Mitch McGary tried to start a fast break himself by dribbling up the court and lost the ball with less than 12 minutes left.
The two turnovers in a game equaled a national low for any team this season, according to STATS LLC.
Jon Horford started in Morgan’s place and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Although Northwestern also shot well at the beginning, the Wolverines were relentless. Some of their points came easily, such as an alley-oop from Burke to Glenn Robinson III in transition.
But Michigan was also sharp from the outside. Nik Stauskas made a 3-pointer and Robinson added a layup, causing Wildcats coach Bill Carmody to call the first of two early timeouts. Stauskas added another 3 to give the Wolverines a 15-9 lead, and Michigan led by as many as 16 later in the half.
It was 36-21 at halftime.
Northwestern looked ready to make a game of it when Dave Sobolewski was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 15:37 to play and the score 40-31, but the sophomore guard missed all three free throws.
A three-point play by Horford made it 50-33.
Michigan finished at 51 percent from the field, but Northwestern never really recovered from the early flurry.
Although Michigan coach John Beilein has done his best to downplay the No. 1 ranking, there was a slightly different vibe before this game in Ann Arbor. Courtside fans were given big foam fingers to hold.
The Wolverines twice needed overtime to beat Northwestern last season, but Michigan won the first meeting of 2012-13 by 28 points earlier this month.
As expected, the rematch was played at a slow pace — which made Michigan’s quick double-digit lead all the more impressive.
Northwestern beat Illinois and Minnesota recently, but the Wildcats are without forward Drew Crawford for the rest of the season because of a right shoulder injury. Reggie Hearn, the team’s leading scorer, was held to seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Robinson scored 13 points for Michigan, and Stauskas added 11.
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