No. 5 Michigan trying to rebound from first loss
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Trey Burke and Michigan can put aside for now the idea of being ranked No. 1 in the country.
An undefeated start to the season? That too is over after the Wolverines sputtered last weekend at Ohio State.
Now the focus is on a Big Ten schedule that will test Burke and his teammates plenty over the next few weeks. No. 5 Michigan plays at No. 9 Minnesota on Thursday night, part of a nine-game stretch for the Wolverines that began with the loss to the Buckeyes and will eventually include six road games.
"The level of intensity that we had in practice (Tuesday) was very high,'' said Burke, Michigan's star point guard. "We know just from watching film that we had a lot to learn, a lot to get better, a lot of adjustments to make.''
The Wolverines (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten) were uncharacteristically sloppy at the start of Sunday's game at Ohio State, falling behind by 21 points in the first half before rallying to force a tense finish in the Buckeyes' 56-53 victory.
Michigan was poised to take over the top spot in the AP poll before that game, but the Wolverines shot a season-worst 38 percent from the field and turned the ball over 13 times. In the first half, they looked nothing like the team that had been rolling over opponents by playing smart, precise basketball.
The road won't get any easier. Minnesota (15-2, 3-1) leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, and the Golden Gophers will challenge a Michigan team that has done a terrific job limiting second chances this season. The Wolverines have been preparing for another physical game around the basket.
"We had the bubble on the rim, and no shot goes in - everybody's got to box out,'' coach John Beilein said. "Real proud of our guys. We've had these situations before, whether it was Pitt, Kansas State, some other teams that were really getting high numbers of rebounds.''
The Wolverines managed to hold Pittsburgh to six offensive rebounds in a November win over the Panthers.
Minnesota is coming off an 88-81 loss to Indiana over the weekend. After four games, Wisconsin is the only team with an unbeaten Big Ten record.
Michigan looked out of sorts early against Ohio State in what was easily the team's toughest road test so far. Sharp-shooting freshman Nik Stauskas was held scoreless, and freshman Glenn Robinson III finished with only one rebound.
The two newcomers that made the biggest contributions in that game were probably guard Spike Albrecht and forward Mitch McGary - perhaps because they began the game on the bench and had a chance to survey what was happening before taking the court in front of the raucous Ohio State crowd.
"It's kind of easy, because you get to sit there and watch the game, see what we're doing right and wrong and kind of just go from there,'' said Albrecht, who scored seven points in 11 minutes. "Coaches told me to get in there and run the offense, and that's just what I tried to do.''
Michigan will need to keep its composure in another tough environment Thursday. The Wolverines beat Minnesota twice last season, but one game was in Ann Arbor and the other was at the Big Ten tournament, when Burke scored 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting to lead Michigan to an overtime win.
"We could have lost both games very easily last year. They were both last-second games,'' Beilein said. "It's another great opportunity for us to grow. ... It is all about the process, and the journey and the process are what leads you to the end.''
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