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Michigan 94, Northwestern 66

The SportsXchange

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Second-ranked Michigan bolted to an early lead and never looked back Thursday, handily dispatching Northwestern 94-66 in both teams' Big Ten season opener at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Last season, the Wolverines and Wildcats battled through two overtime games before Michigan prevailed in each on the way to a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.

On Thursday, the overmatched Wildcats (9-5) trailed 10-0 even as the 8,117 fans settled in. Michigan led by 20 points after 10 minutes.

Trey Burke scored 23 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 21 as the Wolverines (14-0) improved on the program's second-best-ever start in front of a crowd with a decidedly Michigan tilt.

Jordan Morgan added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Wolverines, while Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas each scored 10.

Michigan was productive from beyond the 3-point arc, hitting long-range shots early and often, connecting on 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) for the game.

Jared Swopshire and Kale Abrahamson each had 11 points for Northwestern, while Alex Olah and Tre Demps added 10 apiece.

The Wolverines led by as many as 32 points in the second half. Their smallest advantage after halftime was 17.

Hardaway Jr., who is averaging 15.8 points, was back in the starting lineup after missing Michigan's non-conference season finale with Central Michigan last Saturday.

The big early scorer was Burke, the team scoring leader with 17.8 points per game, who made a bid to match that with 13 points in the first 4:58.

The Wolverines were 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first eight minutes, and Burke accounted for three of them.

Hardaway then started hitting from long distance with back-to-back 3 pointers in a 31-second span as Michigan's lead grew to 33-13 at the 9:59 mark.

The Wolverines maintained a comfortable lead on the way to a 51-30 advantage after 20 minutes behind 15 from Burke and 12 from Hardaway.

Northwestern was without No. 2 scorer Drew Crawford, sidelined following season-ending shoulder surgery last month. The Wildcats' scoring leader, Reggie Hearn (13.5 points), missed his second consecutive game after twisting an ankle Dec. 21.

Last winter, Michigan prevailed 66-64 at home on Jan. 11 and 67-55 on Feb. 21 in Evanston, both overtime games.

It was only the second true road game this season for Michigan, which beat Bradley 74-66 on Dec. 1 in Peoria, Ill. Other games away from home have been at neutral sites in New York and Brooklyn.

NOTES: Michigan's unbeaten non-conference start (13-0) and current 14-0 run are the best since the Wolverines opened at 16-0 in 1985-86 ... The Wolverines were among four remaining undefeated teams entering Thursday's game. Duke, Arizona and Wyoming were also without a loss ... Northwestern freshman Demps has averaged 12 points off the bench in the last four games of 2012 ... Over the next six games the Wildcats will face four teams ranked among the nation's Top 11 this week starting Sunday at No. 9 Minnesota ... The Wolverines' undefeated run has earned sixth-year Michigan coach John Beilein mid-season coach of the year honors announced this week by CollegeInsider.com ... Michigan freshman Stauskas led the country in 3-point shooting at 56.6 percent (39 of 69) entering Thursday and was cited as Big Ten Freshman of the Week, his third such honor this season. He's also the conference's top freshman scorer with a 13.8 point average. He shot just 2-for-7 from long range Thursday. ... Although he's out for the season, Northwestern's Crawford is among five Big Ten contenders for the Senior CLASS award that honors a senior for notable achievements in the community, classroom, competition and character. ... Both teams resume play Sunday. Iowa plays at Michigan, while Northwestern plays at No. 9 Minnesota.
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