Most of the college basketball expected a blowout when Michigan took the floor against Nebraska Wednesday night, but what they got instead was a hotly contested 62-47 victory. The Cornhuskers methodical style and pesky defense had combined to hold the Wolverines high powered offensive in check.
“It was kind of frustrating, but coach told us not to get frustrated... to just continue to play and continue to get the best shots we can,” said Maize & Blue floor leader, Trey Burke. “I think once we stopped looking at the offensive end and (began) prioritizing defense, I think that’s when we got it up to a 10-11 point lead.”
Despite the Wolverines’ obvious struggles on the night, John Beilein called outcome “a great victory.” His team had to fight through unexpected adversity, leaving him and his point guard with a glass half-full perspective.
“I think we needed this more than anything,” Burke stated. “Going into Ohio State on Sunday and then going into Minnesota….two tough road games I think we definitely needed a game like this just to stay grounded and continue to get better.”
The strength of the Big Ten this year almost guarantees that Burke & company will face more trying times this season. Sunday’s tilt in Columbus may be one such occurrence.
“I expect pretty much the same atmosphere as last year,” said Burke. “It was very intense and we were all getting booed. It should be fun. I’m excited to go back home and play against a good Ohio State team. I think we’re all excited just to have the opportunity to go in there and play.”
As a Columbus native, the game carries a little added significance for Burke. Because of his early success and the Buckeyes’ decision to overlook him during the recruiting process, the build-up for last year’s match-up was significant. Burke finished with 13 points on 5/11 shooting and five assists, but the Wolverines lost 64-49. The Wooden award candidate insists this year’s match-up is not personal, but he admits that playing on the Value City Arena floor will be special.
“It’s real big… the opportunity to go back home and play in front of a lot of my old friends and a lot of my old coaches… just a lot of people I grew up with,” said Burke. “It’s going to be big. I’m excited to go back. We’re all excited to go there to play against a great Ohio State team.”
“It’s different (for me) just because it’s my hometown. There are going to be a lot people there that want to see us lose and don’t want to see me do well, but it’s not different as far as the team. I know Ohio State has a great team, they’re well coached, and they’re capable of beating anybody in the country. I don’t think it’s different. I think it’s another great big ten team that we’ll have to beat.”
Tipoff for Sunday’s match up between #2 Michigan and #15 Ohio State is scheduled for 1:30 PM EST and will air on CBS.
To view the interview with Burke, press play below.