Michigan had their biggest win of their season Tuesday when they beat NC State. They looked dominant for long periods of the game, before winning 79-72. Though there was one key player that was clearly the best on the court. That man was Trey Burke.
Burke was special Tuesday night in Michigan’s win. Burke did not score in the team’s dominant first half, yet was still the biggest difference maker. This was due to his flawless orchestration of the offense from the point guard position. Burke accumulated nine assists in the first period, by dictating the entire pace of the game. He started fast breaks, sliced through the disorganized defense and found open scorers in good spots.
It doesn’t hurt that Burke has guys like Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III to get the ball to.
NC State’s poor zone defense also helped matters. Michigan attacked the center of the zone and shot high percentage shots all half. Hardaway was just dropping in short jumpers wide open at the free throw line. For Stauskas, the defense really did not matter. He was drilling in deep threes, contested threes, any type of three pointer imaginable, Stauskas was making. The kid can shoot. Burke was also extremely efficient in this distribution, having no turnovers.
In the second half, though, Burke changed gears. He went in to attack mode. Burke has the ability to get to the rim at will or create a good shot for himself at any time. After a scoreless first half, Burke exploded for 18 second half points. This was huge as NC State’s defense tightened as they went man to man.
NC State is a team that is clearly better suited playing man to man due to their great athleticism. By doing that in the second half they closed down easy shot opportunities for Michigan. More Wolverine possessions ended chaotically, often with a contested jumper. That is why it was so important for Trey Burke to take over, scoring 18 in the second half. When things get tough Burke can make things happen for himself.
Early in the game Burke was a facilitator. He dissected the Wolf Pack’s zone defense, unselfishly creating chances for teammates. At the end of the game NC State was storming back, and perhaps had the game gone another few minutes they could have come back all the way. A game that seemed like a blowout for much of it became a tight game late, and that is when Burke took things in to his own hands.
It takes a special player to be able to adjust their game completely. He did something special, something that every championship contender needs. Burke went from facilitator to scorer, and that is why Michigan beat NC State Tuesday night.
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