ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Northwestern needed a nearly flawless performance to have a chance of upsetting top-ranked Michigan.
Instead, it was the Wolverines who opened up a comfortable lead with a stellar display of shooting at the outset.
Trey Burke had 18 points and eight assists, and Michigan rolled to a 68-46 victory over the Wildcats on Wednesday night. Michigan made 10 of its first 11 shots and went the entire first half without a turnover. The Wolverines didn’t commit a foul, either, until the final minute of the half.
“It’s a very good passing team, especially with Burke,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “They don’t make mistakes. It’s a good team. They can make you look pretty bad sometimes.”
Michigan took over the top spot in the AP poll this week for the first time since the 1992-93 season. The Wolverines can now prepare for Saturday night’s showdown at No. 3 Indiana.
Michigan (20-1, 7-1 Big Ten) played without forward Jordan Morgan, who sprained his right ankle last weekend.
Alex Olah scored 10 points for Northwestern.
“You have to approach every team the same, but we know that’s the best team in the country, and Trey’s one of the best players in the nation,” Olah said. “Even if you make him give up the ball, they’ve got so many other guys who can score.”
The Wolverines finished with only two turnovers. They didn’t have any until 6-foot-10 freshman Mitch McGary tried to start a fast break himself by dribbling up the court and lost the ball with less than 12 minutes left.
The two turnovers in a game equaled a national low for any team this season, according to STATS.
Jon Horford started in Morgan’s place and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Although Northwestern (12-10, 3-6) also shot well at the beginning, the Wolverines were relentless. Some of their points came easily, such as an alley-oop from Burke to Glenn Robinson III in transition.
But Michigan was also sharp from the outside. Nik Stauskas made a 3-pointer and Robinson added a layup, causing Carmody to call the first of two early timeouts. Stauskas added another 3 to give the Wolverines a 15-9 lead, and Michigan led by as many as 16 later in the half.
“They came out and just controlled it,” Carmody said. “Burke was very, very good, and he makes all those guys better. And they’re pretty good in their own right.”
It was 36-21 at halftime.
Northwestern looked ready to make a game of it when Dave Sobolewski was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 15:37 to play and the score 40-31, but the sophomore guard missed all three free throws.
A three-point play by Horford made it 50-33.
Michigan finished at only 51 percent from the field, but Northwestern never really recovered from the early flurry.
Although Michigan coach John Beilein has done his best to downplay the No. 1 ranking, there was a slightly different vibe before this game in Ann Arbor. Courtside fans were given big foam fingers to hold.
The Wolverines twice needed overtime to beat Northwestern last season, but Michigan won the first meeting of 2012-13 by 28 points earlier this month.
As expected, the rematch was played at a slow pace — which made Michigan’s quick double-digit lead all the more impressive.
“We have played Northwestern 12 times. I will be 60 soon, but I’m going to celebrate it as my 72nd birthday,” Beilein said. “They’ve aged me 12 years. Getting ready for them is incredible. It is a tremendous challenge for our team.”
Northwestern beat Illinois and Minnesota recently, but the Wildcats are without forward Drew Crawford for the rest of the season because of a right shoulder injury. Reggie Hearn, the team’s leading scorer, was held to seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Robinson scored 13 points for Michigan, and Stauskas added 11.
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