ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There was nothing easy about Michigan's return home following back-to-back Big Ten road losses, despite playing Big Ten doormat Penn State.
Although the Nittany Lions entered the matchup without a conference win, they led throughout much of the first half and hung close with the Wolverines deep into the second.
But Michigan held off Penn State 79-71 on Sunday.
Sophomore point guard Trey Burke, Michigan's leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, paced the Wolverines with a season-high 29 points. Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III and freshman guard Nik Stauskas followed with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
Penn State's top scorers were guards Jermaine Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak with 17 points each. D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis scored 11 points apiece, while Travis led the team with 10 rebounds.
The Associated Press No. 4-ranked Wolverines (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten), who were coming off an overtime loss at Wisconsin and a blowout defeat at archrival Michigan State, were plagued by poor shooting in the first half. It was the same issue that hounded them against the Spartans.
Normally one of the nation's best shooting teams, Michigan connected on just 39.6 percent of its field-goal attempts against the Spartans, and began the game against Penn State (8-17, 0-13) by shooting 36 percent overall, and 20 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half.
Those numbers improved in the second half, thanks in large measure to the play of Robinson and Stauskas. Robinson, known primarily for his inside play, burnished his reputation with three dunks in the first 10 minutes of the half, including a pair on alley-oop passes from Stauskas and Burke. Stauskas, who missed all three of his first-half 3-point attempts, made two second half tries.
As a team, the Wolverines finished with 46.9 percent shooting for the game against Penn State, which led by as many as eight points in the first half.
A jumper by Burke in the final minute of the first half tied the game 32-32 going into halftime. Penn State started strong on the inside, scoring 12 points in the paint, while Michigan found its offense mainly from Burke, who poured in 14 in the first half on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, and two points from the free throw line.
The Wolverines also received an offensive boost from Robinson. Robinson, who scored just two points in Michigan's blowout road loss at Michigan State last Tuesday, scored eight first-half points, including a pair of back-to-back dunks.
Notes: Penn State's leading scorer, Newbill (16.2 point per game) committed three first-half fouls and had just three points in the first half. ... The Nittany Lions have yet to claim victory in 2013. Their last win came Dec. 29. ... Michigan forward Jordan Morgan, who has been bothered by an ankle injury for several weeks, started but played just four first-half minutes.