Thursday, January 3, 2013
Wildcats fall 94-66 to No. 2 Michigan
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern looked like a team that needed a wakeup call, and guard Dave Sobolewski sounded the alarm.
At some point, he figures, the message has to get through. Maybe this will do the trick.
Sobolewski wasn't holding back after Northwestern got pounded 94-66 by No. 2 Michigan on Thursday night.
"Eventually, we've got to start doing things that the coaches get on us about," he said. "We keep messing up the same things in the 1-3-1. We keep missing assignments. We keep falling asleep on defense. A lot of it will come down to heart and how bad we want it on defense mainly, too."
Some of it also came down to Michigan simply being too good.
Trey Burke scored 23 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 21 and the Wolverines (14-0, 1-0 Big Ten) remained unbeaten with a lopsided victory.
Off to their best start since they opened the 1985-86 season with 16 wins, they had no trouble in the Big Ten opener after breezing through the non-conference portion of their schedule.
They built a 21-point halftime lead with Burke and Hardaway Jr. leading the way and were never challenged by Northwestern (9-5, 0-1).
Michigan shot 59.6 percent overall and made 13 of 22 3-point attempts with the two guards doing most of the damage. Burke shot 9 of 16 overall and hit 4 of 6 3-pointers. Hardaway was 6 of 8 from the field and 4 of 5 from long range, and the ankle injury that kept him out of the previous game didn't seem to be an issue.
"(Burke) does a lot of things that make his teammates better," Sobolewski said. "There's not one thing you can take away from him because he can do everything and he's just a great all-around player."
Jordan Morgan added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Wolverines, while Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas scored 10 points apiece.
Jared Swopshire and Kale Abrahamson each scored 11 points for Northwestern, but the Wildcats gave up the most points they have allowed this season while being outclassed by one of the nation's best teams.
It was a sharp contrast from their two meetings last season, when Michigan needed overtime to win both games.
Then again, the Wildcats were short-handed.
Besides suspending guard JerShon Cobb for the year for violating team policy, they also shut down one of their best players, Drew Crawford, for the remainder of the season last month because of a shoulder injury.
Leading scorer Reggie Hearn also sat out his second straight game because of a sprained ankle.
Not that Michigan was showing any mercy. Instead, the Wolverines ended the suspense early.
Burke, averaging a team-leading 17.8 points coming in, scored 15 in the first half. Hardaway added 12 points, hitting all four 3s, and Michigan barely broke a sweat before taking a 51-30 halftime lead.
"I think we're going to be OK offensively," Wildcats guard Alex Marcotullio said. "We'll make adjustments from that standpoint. But defensively is where we really need to improve. We have to learn every day. We have to compete. I think in that first half, we didn't really compete for the first 10 minutes or so."
Burke did his best to bury Northwestern almost as soon as the game started.
The sophomore guard scored 13 straight points for Michigan to help the Wolverines grab a 20-4 lead.
"He's got a presence out there," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "He's got a great ability to know when he can score and when he can find other people."
Hardaway got going midway through the half, making consecutive 3-pointers that made it 33-13 and drew an "M Go Blue! M Go Blue!" chant from the maize-and-blue contingent in the stands.
He struck again from the outside on consecutive possessions later in the half. And Burke wowed the crowd in the closing minutes when he laid the ball in after a nasty crossover.
For Northwestern fans, there was little to cheer in the early going other than when football coach Pat Fitzgerald addressed the crowd on the heels of his team's Gator Bowl victory.