Auburn Hills, Mich. • The cheers that followed every good play he made — a 3-point bucket, a steal and breakaway layup, an alley-oop lob to a teammate — felt entirely familiar to him.
Before the game, fans hounded him for autographs and pictures. They wore his jersey and yelled out his name.
“It made me feel like I was back at Michigan,” said Trey Burke, who helped lead the Wolverines to the NCAA title game last year as a sophomore. “… It felt like I was back in the tournament, playing against VCU.”
Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, there was another similarity to Burke’s college days: His team won. Behind a team-high 20 points and 12 assists from Burke, the Utah Jazz trampled a lifeless Detroit Pistons team 110-89.
Early on, Burke felt the nerves of a homecoming game. And at halftime, he had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
But his hot-handed teammates more than made up for that. The Jazz hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter. Center Enes Kanter scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half. Forward Marvin Williams had 10 of his 17 in the first two quarters.
By halftime, Utah had built up a 58-45 lead.
Out of the locker room, Burke missed his first two shots of the third quarter. Undeterred, the Jazz rookie went on to hit his next five attempts. He finished 8 of 17 from the field, notching 20 points for the seventh time this season.
“I’m not even going to lie,” Burke said. “I came out a little excited. Once I was able to sit down and see the game from a different perspective I was able to relax.”
There were plenty in the crowd who wished they could see Burke in a Detroit uniform. The Pistons had their shot at him in June, but opted for shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the eighth pick in the NBA draft, giving the Jazz a shot at the point they coveted.
“Oh, man, when he was becoming available, getting closer to our pick, it was like, ‘Wow. We’re gonna get him. We’re gonna be able to get him,’” Jazz coach Ty Corbin before Friday’s game. “Lucky for us, Dennis [Lindsey] and Kevin [O’Connor] were able to make a move to move up to get him. We needed a point guard. To get a young point guard that was as successful as he was in college and has a chance to be as successful as we think he can be in this league, it’s great to get him at this juncture.”
Coming off a loss Wednesday night in San Antonio, the Jazz bounced back in a big way Friday night.
Utah shot 54 percent from the field and had 17 fast-break points.
Derrick Favors scored eight points but collected a game-high 11 rebounds as the Jazz out-rebounded Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and the rest of the Pistons 43-32.
Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey scored a game-high 21 point off the bench, but Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks and his team could not find a way to match Utah’s effort.
“I was just looking for something else,” Cheeks said. “Nothing was working. We weren’t getting anything done. They were scoring at will.”
The Jazz improved to 14-27 as they reached the midpoint of the season.
“The way we were playing tonight, the way we were playing together, we would have beat a lot of teams,” said forward Richard Jefferson, who had 13 points. “We don’t look at this as just a hot night. We look at this as we’re becoming a little bit more of a consistent team.”
It’s a team Burke said he’s glad to be a part of.
“I wouldn’t say my feelings were hurt,” he said of Detroit’s decision to pass over him in the draft. “I could have seen myself playing for them … but it’s a business. They went in a different direction and I feel like where I’m at is a perfect situation for me. We’re growing as a franchise for me. We’re a young team and we know we can get better.”