ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Glen Robinson III bounced back from one of his worst games to help No. 4 Michigan respond to an embarrassing loss with a much-needed win.
Robinson matched a career high with 21 points and Trey Burke scored a season-high 29 to help the Wolverines get past a humbling setback with a 79-71 victory over Penn State on Sunday.
“It definitely got my confidence rolling,” Robinson said after making all six of his shots, nine of 11 free throws and grabbing 10 rebounds.
It might’ve helped Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) as well after it dropped three of its previous four games, including a 23-point loss Tuesday night on the road against No. 8 Michigan State.
“We just needed a win any way possible,” coach John Beilein said.
Michigan appeared to still be struggling to get over its blowout against the rival Spartans when it trailed for much of the first half against a last-place team without a conference win.
“I told the guys this was a gritty, not pretty, win,” Burke said.
The Nittany Lions (8-17, 0-13) led by as many as eight points in the first half. They went ahead 7-plus minutes into the game and had the lead until Burke made a game-tying, off-balance fadeaway with 55 seconds left in the first half.
“It was an incredible shot,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “It looked like he was going to pass it, but he hung in the air long enough that he could change his mind and shoot it. And, he’s talented enough that he made it.”
Jermaine Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak each scored 17 points while D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis had 11 apiece for the Nittany Lions. Penn State, coming off a two-point loss to Iowa, is desperately trying to win a Big Ten game for the first time since beating the Hawkeyes on Feb. 16, 2012.
“The energy, attitude and resolve we’ve had has been incredible,” Chambers said. “We’re getting better. A couple weeks ago, we wouldn’t have been in this game.”
Michigan scored the first six points after halftime to take control and Robinson appeared to help the Wolverines pull away with eight-point leads early in the second half.
The Nittany Lions, though, wouldn’t wilt easily. Penn State pulled within a point midway through the half, but couldn’t get the lead back.
“The first half went as well as it could’ve for us, but giving up almost 50 points in the second half was not executing our game plan,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to learn how to make plays down the stretch to win.”
Robinson played well following a poor performance at Michigan State, where he matched a season low with two points.
“He probably had four or five dunks to do a good job of igniting them,” Chambers said.
Tim Hardaway Jr., meanwhile, was off offensively for a second straight game. The junior shooting guard scored eight points — half his average — on 3-of-11 shooting after equaling a career low with two points and missing 10 of 11 shots against the Spartans.
“He’s old enough to know he can get 20 any given night,” said Burke, a sophomore.
Freshman Nik Stauskas scored 18 points, giving the Wolverines the third scoring option they needed to avoid an upset.
Michigan welcomed back former players such as Glen Rice, who led the school to its only NCAA basketball title in 1989, over the weekend and during the game for a rededication of an aging Crisler Arena into the transformed venue that is now known as Crisler Center.
“This place is unbelievable,” Rice said just before tipoff. “It’s amazing what they’ve done to the place.”
The Wolverines wore throwback uniforms, designed to look like the ones from the 1967-68 season, their first in Crisler Arena, and the players got haircuts to sport part of the Fab Five’s look from two decades ago.
Michigan has a week off before its next game at home against Illinois. The time off should help Jordan Morgan recover from a lingering ankle injury, which limited him to 7 minutes Sunday, and Chris LeVert, who was knocked out of the game against Penn State with an ankle injury.
“(LeVert) couldn’t go back in after it tightened up on him,” Beilein said. “When you watch (Morgan) move out there, it’s not happening. He’s delayed.”
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