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Max Bielfeldt's career night powers Michigan rout

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Senior Max Bielfeldt finally got to do something he's never done before in his career at Michigan — lead the singing of "The Victors" after a UM victory.

Playing a backup role for his entire career, Bielfeldt hasn't really had a coming-out party.

Maybe it's better late than never.

Bielfeldt scored 13 of his career-best 18 points in the first half, giving the No. 24 Wolverines a boost on the way to an easy 77-53 victory over Bucknell on Monday night at Crisler Center.

The 6-foot-7 center showed his versatility, converting all three of his 3-pointers, as well as getting inside and grabbing three rebounds. His previous career high was four points, which he's done three times.

"I got in a rhythm; that's been one of the keys — I haven't quite gotten in a rhythm most of my career," said Bielfeldt, who had hip surgery in April. "They sagged off at the top of the key so the opportunity was there and I just took it.

"My body feels great — better than it has all of college — so it's new hip, new man."

Sophomore Zak Irvin led Michigan (2-0) with 23 points and Derrick Walton added 15 points and eight rebounds.

UM jumped to a 10-0 lead after Bielfeldt hit his first 3-pointer, at the 16:45 mark. He added another 3-pointer and a dunk, pushing Michigan to an 8-for-12 start from the field. That ignited another 10-0 run, with an Irvin triple that made it 24-7.

Bielfeldt added a putback and jumper during an 8-1 spurt before halftime and Michigan's lead ballooned to 41-17.

"I'm pleased that we could get away with a win and pleased that we could get a guy like Max Bielfeldt every opportunity he had," coach John Beilein said. "If you look at this year, we go to Europe and he would have had a great opportunity to play but he could not play.

"He was not really in shape; he just made his sprints 10 days ago. He wasn't in that type of shape, but he still wasn't outstanding in practice."

Bielfeldt hit his final 3-pointer at the 16:08 mark, as the lead got to 31 — and the rout was on.

Bucknell (1-1) didn't threaten in the second half, never getting closer than 22, after Chris Hass scored 14 straight during a late stretch. Hass finished with 21 points.

Beilein said Bielfeldt has played at a different level this week, prompting his early entry into the game after about three minutes.

"The last couple of days in practice, he's virtually been a man-child playing with our guys and he's been very, very good," Beilein said. "After yesterday's practice, where the Bucknell scout team beat Michigan and he was the star on that team, I said, 'I don't care.'

"He and I met today and we went over a couple plays to make sure he knew it. … I made my mind up earlier yesterday that he'd be the first big man off the bench."

Bielfeldt didn't play in the opening win against Hillsdale, but Bielfeldt said that was mostly because he wanted to let the freshmen get more playing time to get accustomed to the system.

After battling through injuries for most of his career, Bielfeldt could be making strides at just the right time, with Michigan struggling to find consistency with a couple of freshmen in the middle.

"It was the reason I redshirted my freshman year. It was my hip and a knee issue, connected," Bielfeldt said. "I got that fixed and I'm feeling great. They went in and shaved off part of the bone. I had a torn labrum so they fixed up the labrum, as well."

It could just be the start for Bielfeldt's career to take off — and more standing on top of chairs, singing "The Victors."