NEW YORK (AP) — Dug McDaniel had 26 points, Nimari Burnett scored 21 — all in the first half — and Michigan cruised to an 89-73 romp Monday night over St. John’s and new coach Rick Pitino at Madison Square Garden.
Terrance Williams II added 12 points and Will Tschetter scored 10 for the Wolverines (3-0) in the opener of the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, which matches Big Ten teams against Big East programs.
Michigan interim coach Phil Martelli filled in again for Juwan Howard, who has been recovering from heart surgery since mid-September. Howard traveled with the team to New York, but the school said he wasn’t expected on the floor.
McDaniel added seven assists and six rebounds. Burnett made all eight field goal attempts in the first half, including four 3-pointers. Both players set a career scoring high.
Michigan has won 11 straight games at Madison Square Garden, including a second consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship in 2018.
For the 71-year-old Pitino, a New York City native, his first high-profile game at St. John’s was a colossal flop. It was the first home game at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” for the Hall of Famer since he coached the NBA’s New York Knicks from 1987-89.
Pitino, who won NCAA national championships at Kentucky and Louisville, spent the past three seasons at Iona.
Joel Soriano had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Red Storm (1-1).
Burnett, scoreless in Michigan’s previous game, had 15 of the first 16 points for the Wolverines in the opening 6:07, including a trio of 3s. Michigan took control by closing the first half on a 19-7 spurt to build a 48-38 halftime lead.
That grew to 60-43 early in the second half, and the Wolverines pushed the margin to 26 with 7:33 remaining. By then, Michigan fans in the crowd of 14,188 were chanting “Let’s Go Blue!” and “Free Jim Harbaugh!”
Michigan: Even without Howard on the sidelines, the Wolverines are off to an impressive start. Michigan lost its top three scorers from last season — two top-15 NBA draft picks and preseason All-America big man Hunter Dickinson, who transferred to Kansas. But the Wolverines have blown out UNC Asheville, Youngstown State and now a St. John’s team picked fifth in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll.
St. John’s: It was a humbling reality check in the first true test of the season for a team with 12 new players — including 10 transfers — after the Pitino era began with a 90-74 victory over Stony Brook last Tuesday at Carnesecca Arena on campus.
Michigan: Will host Long Beach State on Friday night before facing Memphis at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 22. Memphis received the most votes of any team outside the Top 25 in Monday’s AP poll.
St. John’s: Will play North Texas, last season’s NIT champion, Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Classic in South Carolina.