Slippery Rock has long been a favorite in Ann Arbor — so after the Pennsylvania school lost big to Michigan on the court, coach Kevin Reynolds was still appreciative of the night's hosts.
"It's actually really refreshing where you see a big school like Michigan, who has everything, who reaches out to a school like Slippery Rock, and kind of — I guess the best word to use is 'adopt' us — as a little brother," Reynolds said. "I think it's great for us to have that affiliation, and it's nice for Michigan to embrace it. We don't get this opportunity to play in this type of arena and in this type of atmosphere, and we're very thankful."
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 25 points, surpassing 1,000 for his career, and the No. 5 Wolverines opened their season with a 100-62 win over Division II Slippery Rock on Friday night. The matchup was noteworthy because of the unusual kinship between the schools stemming from Michigan's tradition of announcing Slippery Rock scores at football games for over a half-century.
"We were hoping to make it a little more of a struggle for them, but there's a reason they're No. 5 in the country," Reynolds said.
Trey Burke added 21 points for the Wolverines, and freshman Glenn Robinson III had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Hardaway made all five of his 3-point attempts.
"I see another step in his progression, playing as a combo type of guard," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Our coaching staff values him very much."
In an odd arrangement, the game counted toward Michigan's record but was considered an exhibition for Slippery Rock. Devin Taylor led the visitors with 14 points.
Michigan fans love their tradition of announcing Slippery Rock scores at football games, which dates to 1959. Slippery Rock itself even played a football game at Michigan Stadium in 1979 against Shippensburg.
But on Friday, the crowd treated the Rock like any other opposing team, and Michigan methodically pulled ahead by a comfortable margin in the first half. Hardaway, who shot 28 percent from 3-point range last season, made two attempts from long distance early on — and the second gave Michigan a 20-15 lead.
Hardaway says he's worked on his form, and that his problem last season was related to his balance before the shot.
The Wolverines ended up 12 of 19 from beyond the arc in their highest-scoring game since 2007.
The Wolverines will host IUPUI on Monday night in an NIT game, but this was a decent warmup. Robinson looked sharp in his debut, and fellow freshman Mitch McGary had nine points and nine rebounds.
Michigan entered with its highest preseason ranking since 1993 — in large part because of Burke's decision to stay for his sophomore year instead of going to the NBA. The star point guard was impressive in the opener, shooting 9 of 17 and finishing with eight assists. Hardaway was 8 of 10 and had 10 rebounds.
Hardaway drew probably the biggest roar of the night from the home crowd when he came soaring down the lane for a one-handed dunk early in the second half. Moments later, he made another 3-pointer — and drew a foul in the process. He missed the free throw for the four-point play, but Michigan led 51-34.
Hardaway's fourth 3-pointer, from near the top of the key, made it a 20-point game and gave him 1,000 points for his career. He became the 46th Wolverine to reach that mark.
It was the most points for Michigan since a 103-87 win over Oakland University on Dec. 12, 2007.