CHICAGO (AP) – No costly mistakes this time. No problems at the foul line. No big turnovers, either.
When Michigan pulled away from Penn State on Thursday, Trey Burke and Co. just poured it on.
Burke scored 21 points and the sixth-ranked Wolverines beat the Nittany Lions 83-66 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, avenging a shocking loss during the regular season.
“It was a lot of motivation coming into this game,” Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “We knew what they did to us at Happy Valley and we really wanted to do a great job just going into the game, sticking to the game plan, and just playing Michigan basketball.”
Hardaway and Nik Stauskas each had 15 points for the Wolverines (26-6), who will play fourth-seeded Wisconsin in the quarterfinals on Friday. Freshman reserve Mitch McGary added 10 points and 11 rebounds, helping Michigan to a 28-15 advantage in second-chance points.
“Their bigs did a tremendous job today,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “I think that was really the difference. The bigs finished. They hurt us on the offensive glass as well.”
D.J. Newbill scored 20 points for the Nittany Lions (10-21), who faded after a fast start. Sasa Borovnjak scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, and Ross Travis finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Michigan had a chance to grab a share of the Big Ten title when it hosted Indiana last Sunday, but the Hoosiers won 72-71 after Jordan Morgan’s last-second putback rolled off the rim. The Wolverines then slipped all the way to the fifth seed for the conference tournament, giving them a game on the first day at the United Center while the top four seeds rested.
The one payoff was a chance to avenge a shaky performance against the Nittany Lions two weeks ago, when Michigan blew a 15-point lead in the second half of an 84-78 loss.
“It was obviously in the back of our head that we were up 15 points with 10 minutes left at Penn State and that they’re capable of coming back and winning the game,” Burke said. “This is a team that’s playing for pride, a team that’s been through a lot this year. We just had to make sure we did what we needed to do to pull out the win.”
This one had a much different finish, with the Wolverines breaking open a close game with an 18-3 run in the second half. Hardaway got it started with a jumper and Morgan added a layup to make it 50-45 with 13:36 left. After Jermaine Marshall scored inside for Penn State, Burke made another jumper and the rout was on.
Jon Horford converted a three-point play and Hardaway dunked on a fast break to extend the lead to 64-48 with 9:49 remaining.
“They played some great basketball, that’s all I can say,” Newbill said. “They hit shots, we missed shots. They got stops, we didn’t. Can’t say much more than that.”
Now Michigan gets another chance for revenge when it takes on the Badgers, who rallied for a 65-62 victory over the Wolverines on Feb. 9 in one of the best games of the season. Ben Brust hit a tying 3-pointer from just inside midcourt at the end of regulation, then hit another big 3 with 39 seconds left in overtime to lead Wisconsin to the win.
If the Wolverines were at all motivated by the shocking loss at Penn State, it sure didn’t show at the start. Borovnjak had eight quick points as the Nittany Lions bolted to a 14-3 lead with 14:27 left in the first half.
Michigan eventually settled down and led 35-33 at halftime. McGary had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, providing a big lift after Morgan got off to a slow start.
“Coming off the bench I wanted to provide a spark,” McGary said. “We were down 14-3 and I know we needed to pick up the intensity on the defensive and offensive glass and I was able to score a few buckets.”
Horford scored seven of his 11 points in the second half as the Wolverines pulled away. They shot 46 percent from the field and went 19 for 23 at the foul line in their fifth victory in the last seven games.
“Really proud of the way they showed great composure to come back and then win the game going away,” coach John Beilein said.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap