Published December 20, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Tim Hardaway Jr. has shown he can make long jumpers and score in the lane off the dribble.
The Michigan guard is trying to prove he can pass, too.
Hardaway Jr. had 17 points and a career-high seven assists to help the 2nd-ranked Wolverines rout Eastern Michigan 93-54 Thursday night.
"I'm trying to mix up my game because I don't want to be just a 3-point shooter," he said. "There are more things I can do to score the ball, and there are things I can do to make passes."
The Wolverines' other guard, Trey Burke, had 11 points and eight assists with only one turnover in his latest strong performance.
"Michigan has one of the best backcourts in the nation," Eagles coach Rob Murphy said.
The Wolverines (12-0) are off to their best start since winning the first 16 games of the 1985-86 season.
"I really like winning," coach John Beilein said after downplaying the feat. "It beats the alternative."
The Eagles (6-4) have lost two straight since beating Purdue. Earlier this month, they lost to No. 3 Syracuse 84-48, giving Murphy an up-close look at two of college basketball's best teams.
"Syracuse is extremely athletic with great size," said Murphy, a former Orange assistant. "Michigan has some great shooters and they are really efficient.
"Both teams have great point guards."
Michigan trailed Eastern Michigan 6-2 in the opening minutes, then took control with a 20-0 run.
"I've never coached against a team who can shoot the ball at a high rate like Michigan does," Murphy said. "Every position outside of the (center) can really shoot."
The Wolverines led 40-24 at halftime and enjoyed an even bigger cushion for much of the second half.
"I thought our focus was incredible," Beilein said.
Michigan's Nik Stauskas made three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 16 points, while fellow freshmen Mitch McGary had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double and Glenn Robinson III added 13 points.
Burke, the reigning Big Ten player of the week, took the ball from Jalen Ross on the first possession of the game and made a layup.
Ross responded with a 3-pointer and Glen Bryant made another shot from beyond the arc to give the Eagles a four-point lead that proved to be their highlight of the night. Michigan used a balanced offense and aggressive defense to build a 22-6 lead.
The Wolverines then seemed to show some mercy — briefly playing five freshmen, including two that seldom play — and didn't add much to their lead in the first half.
Eastern Michigan's Daylen Harrison scored 13 points and Bryant had 10.
Ross had nine points in the first half but the rest of the Eagles' starters scored just seven combined. Ross didn't score after halftime, missing all five of his shots.
Jordan Morgan made a low-post shot and a mid-range jumper on Michigan's first two possessions of the second half. The Wolverines led by 30-plus points with 14 minutes left and coasted to another lopsided victory.
"We let a couple teams come back on us early in the season, but we didn't want that to happen again," Hardaway said. "It's a matter of mental focus and preparation. We know that we have to keep playing when we get a lead."
After beating No. 25 North Carolina State by seven points, Michigan won its next five games — against Bradley, Western Michigan, Arkansas, Binghamton and West Virginia — by an average of 19-plus points to reach its highest ranking since the 1992-93 season, the second year of the Fab Five era.
The Wolverines have a long break and one more tuneup — Dec. 29 at home against Central Michigan — before facing Big Ten competition.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Beilein said.
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