Michigan too much for No. 8 Memphis
Those three opening wins for Michigan were nice.
To knock off a top-10 team in their return to Maui? That's a better gauge of just how good this team can be.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 21 points, Trey Burke added 14 and the No. 15 Wolverines beat No. 8 Memphis 73-61 in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday.
Back in Maui for the first time since 1998, Michigan (4-0) looked right at home in paradise, using its ability to penetrate to shoot 54 percent while hounding the Tigers with a variety of defenses.
The two-time tournament champions move on to face the winner between No. 6 Duke and Tennessee in Tuesday's semifinals.
''We're really pleased we could come away with a win today,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. ''Memphis presents some very big challenges. They're a very good defense. We haven't seen anything like that.''
Memphis (1-1) backed up an easy season-opening win with a shaky performance against the experienced Wolverines.
The Tigers had trouble containing Michigan's guards and took some questionable shots at the other end, hitting 33 percent from the floor and 4 of 20 from 3-point range to get bounced into the loser's bracket.
Charles Carmouche led Memphis with 14 points.
''They hit some big shots, we tried to speed them up on some things and we turned it over,'' Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. ''But in the end, we didn't make some shots we needed to hit. We missed some short shots, but that's a credit to obviously Michigan. They're a very good basketball team.''
Michigan has made a quick turnaround since a disappointing 2009-10 season.
The Wolverines used a late run to get back into the NCAA Tournament last season and came into this year with plenty of expectations, returning nearly everyone except Darius Morris, an NBA second-round pick.
Michigan opened the season with a pair of easy wins, rolling over Ferris State and Towson, then had to hold on for a 59-55 victory against Western Illinois.
The Wolverines shot well early against Memphis, thanks to penetration by Hardaway and Burke, but was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball against the Tigers' pressure.
Michigan, which led the nation with 10 turnovers per game last season, had eight in the first half. It made up for it by shooting 15 of 25 and assembling a 10-0 run over the final 3:02 to go up 37-31 at halftime.
The half ended with Burke swatting Joe Jackson's last-second shot out of bounds and players from both sides got tangled at midcourt as they headed toward the locker rooms. Memphis' Will Barton and Michigan's Zack Novak were both hit with technicals for the altercation.
Tempers remained calm in the second half and Michigan gradually pulled away, going up 53-41 on Eso Akunne's 3-pointer in transition with 12 1/2 minutes left. The Wolverines kept hitting shots, took better care of the ball and used their defensive pressure to prevent the Tigers from making a run.
''We hit some tough shots in the beginning, but you can't keep that going all game,'' Novak said. ''They made a little run there where our tough shots stopped falling and we got it together, got back with it - slowed down and had good shots, played hard basketball.''
Memphis has made a nice recovery since coach John Calipari left for Kentucky in 2009 and took most of the nation's No. 1 recruiting class with him.
The ever-enthusiastic Pastner has put Memphis back among the elite with some not-so-bad recruiting chops of his own, bringing in one of the best classes in 2010.
The Tigers lost in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament with a freshmen-heavy roster, but opened this season with the type of expectations that were common when Calipari was coach.
With five starters and 10 players back, Memphis was 11th in the preseason poll and moved up three spots over the season's first two weeks.
The Tigers beat Belmont 97-81 in their opening game of the Maui Invitational behind Will Barton's 23 points and 22 from Wesley Witherspoon.
Back in Maui for the first time since 2006, Memphis created problems for Michigan in the first half with its defensive pressure, but couldn't keep Hardaway (11 points) and Burke (nine) out of the lane. The Tigers also struggled to hit shots from the perimeter against Michigan's mix of zone and man defenses, hitting just 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Memphis tried to make a run after falling behind 14 in the second half, but had dug too deep of a hole and ran out of gas down the stretch.
''We stopped attacking the basket. We started settling for jump shots,'' said Barton, who had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. ''We didn't do a good job in transition defense, stopping the ball when they swung in transition, closing out guys and calling out misses. That's when they hurt us the most.''