With 11:35 remaining in the game, Tim Hardaway Jr. took a seat on the bench, next to Mitch McGary, exhausted and out of breath as he wiped the sweat of his face.
He put in an all-around effort, a game-high 23 points, while adding seven rebounds, to lead Michigan over Kansas State 71-57 to capture the NIT Season Tipoff at Madison Square Garden.
Hardaway shot 10-of-15 from the field, scoring from in different ways. Early on, Hardaway was able to put the ball on the deck and get to the rim. The junior guard was great from the mid-range, especially the crossover, pull up jumper he had on Will Spralding.
What made it more impressive is that Hardaway kept the team with the lead, scoring 12 points in the first half with limited contributions from Glenn Robinson III, who had only four points or Trey Burke and Jordan Morgan, who combined for no points and three rebounds at intermission.
At the start of half, the entire team started to click. Michigan was holding a 29-24 lead and less than two minutes into the half made it an 11-point game, keeping a double-digit for the rest of the game.
Michigan got whatever they wanted offensive in the second half, connecting on 18-of-33 shots in the half. The Wolverines consistently got into the lane and were unselfish, making extra passes for better shots.
But the story in this one was Hardaway. He stepped up on a big stage, showing all out effort on both ends of the floor. He was active on the glass with a block to go along with seven boards. Hardaway, the tournament’s most outstanding player, left the game late with a reported head injury (passed concussion tests), but was able to return to the bench for the final minute.
Hardaway posted 16 points in a win over Pittsburgh Thursday night, before Friday night’s offensive explosion. Michigan faces its first real test of the season Tuesday against No. 16 N.C. State.