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No. 2 Michigan equals best start with win over Nebraska

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Associated Press
1/9/2013 11:15:49 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Trey Burke has a good idea of what to expect when Michigan takes the court at Ohio State on Sunday.

"I expect pretty much the same atmosphere as last year," Burke said. "It was very intense. We all were getting booed. It should be fun."

The difference this time is that the Wolverines will be undefeated when they face their rivals to the south. Second-ranked Michigan assured that with a 62-47 win over Nebraska on Wednesday night.

The Wolverines (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) equaled their best start to a season. Only the 1985-86 team had started 16-0, and that was also the last Michigan team to be unbeaten heading into a game at Ohio State, according to STATS. On Jan. 4, 1986, the Wolverines improved to 14-0 with a 78-68 win in Columbus.

Michigan won Wednesday despite its shakiest shooting performance in a while. Burke had 18 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Ray Gallegos scored 19 for Nebraska (9-7, 0-3), which held the Wolverines to 39 per cent shooting. Michigan, which beat its first two conference opponents by 28 points apiece, went 3 of 17 from 3-point range.

"It's a great win. We had to grind one out," coach John Beilein said. "That adversity is good stuff in the long run."

With the game still in doubt, freshman Glenn Robinson III intercepted a pass near midcourt and went in alone for a soaring dunk that put Michigan ahead 47-39. After a 3-pointer by Gallegos cut the lead to five, Robinson slammed down a missed shot by teammate Caris LeVert to make it a seven-point game.

Michigan's Mitch McGary went diving on the floor for a loose ball, causing a jump ball that gave possession to the Wolverines. The 6-foot-10 freshman then began waving his arms, trying to pump up the crowd.

McGary's layup at the other end made it 51-42, and Hardaway's two free throws put Michigan up by double digits for the first time.

"As long as we can run our offence and execute, there's people on this team that can score no matter what," McGary said. "Tonight, we weren't hitting shots like we wanted to, so we just needed to make up for it on the defensive end, and I think we did that."

The 1985-86 Wolverines, featuring Roy Tarpley and Glen Rice, had the program's most recent regular-season conference title until last season's team finished tied atop the Big Ten. Michigan breezed through its first two league games this season but found the going a bit tough against the plodding Cornhuskers.

Nebraska, coming off a 47-41 loss to Wisconsin, was content to keep the pace slow, and the Wolverines couldn't pull away. Michigan didn't help itself by going 17 of 26 from the free throw line.

"It's tough because this is the same thing we did against Wisconsin," Gallegos said. "We gave ourselves a chance, but we didn't make the hustle plays that we needed to make. They got a lot of offensive rebounds and a lot of second-chance points, and that hurt us."

The Wolverines had 16 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over only five times.

Toward the end, the home crowd began chanting "Beat Ohio" -- Michigan's game at No. 15 Ohio State will be a homecoming of sorts for Burke, who is from Columbus.

"Ohio State-Michigan, just the rivalry, the two names when they play against each other, it's always going to be an intense game," he said.

Nebraska has held 15 of its 16 opponents under 50 per cent shooting, but the Cornhuskers couldn't score enough down the stretch. Gallegos had their final 13 points. A layup by Brandon Ubel with 12:51 remaining was the last scoring contribution by any other Nebraska player.

After that, Michigan freshman Nik Stauskas tossed up a wild shot on a drive to the basket. It missed, but he was able to keep the ball inbounds for his teammates before setting up over in the right corner. Stauskas eventually made a 3 to put Michigan up 43-34.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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