STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team extended its six-game winning streak with a 66-62 down-to-the-wire conference victory over Penn State today (Saturday, Jan. 15) at the Bryce Jordan Center. After leading for the majority of the second half, the Wolverines (12-5 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) found their eight-point advantage dissolved to two (59-57) after a 10-2 Penn State run with just over one minute to play in the game. But a clutch triple from freshman Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) helped the Wolverines to a 62-57 advantage, which would ultimately carry them to victory.
Michigan fought an uphill battle for the majority of the contest after getting into foul trouble early, as sophomore Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) left the court with four fouls after playing just 1:13 in the second half. With junior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) and sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) sidelined due to injuries and Sims in foul trouble, junior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) and fifth-year senior J.C. Mathis (Brooklyn, N.Y./John F. Kennedy HS) stepped up for U-M down low.
Brown finished the game with his first-career double-double, scoring 13 points and bringing down 10 boards. The junior forward finished the game playing a career-best 37 minutes, adding one assist, one block and two steals to his clutch performance. Mathis finished the game with nine points and six boards, along with one block and one steal. Mathis shot 4-for-9 from the floor, carrying out numerous key plays for the Wolverines.
Sophomore Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) led the team in scoring with 14 points, shooting 5-for-12 from the floor with three triples. All of Harris' scores came in the first half, as he accounted for 14 of Michigan's 30 tallies. Coleman rounded out Michigan's double-digit scorers with 12 points, coming on a career-best four three-point baskets. After being held scoreless in the first half, Coleman's four triples gave Michigan the boost it needed to take victory over Penn State.
The game began as closely as it ended, as the lead changed hands seven times in the first five minutes of play. Penn State began the first half with perfection, hitting 5-of-5 from the field to kick off the contest. The Wolverines responded well, but found themselves in foul trouble early on. After just over five minutes of play, Michigan had sent Penn State to the line four times, racking up five personal fouls.
With Penn State leading by six (14-8) at 14:29, Harris drained back-to-back triples to tie the game at 14. The Wolverines then held the Nittany Lions to a drought from the field, as Penn State shot 0-for-9 from the floor after their perfect 5-for-5 start. Michigan took advantage of Penn State's inability to score, building up a modest four-point lead (19-15) on two points from Brown and another three-point shot from Harris.
The four-point lead would stand for the duration of the half, as the two teams battled back-and-forth as the clock ticked down. Harris capped off his first-half scoring with a three-point play to give the Wolverines a 26-20 advantage with 3:35 left in the half. After beginning the half with a spree of fouls, Michigan's troubles continued as Sims picked up his third foul of the contest with 1:22 left to play in the half. The Wolverines headed to the locker rooms carrying a slim 30-26 advantage.
With just a four-point lead entering the second half, Michigan continued to be pushed by Penn State. Finally, after trailing Michigan since 11:24 in the first half, the Nittany Lions grabbed a 37-35 advantage with 14:05 remaining in the contest. The lead changed hands with possession, as the two teams racked up four lead changes and three ties in just over six minutes of play. Mathis and Brown led the team during that stretch, with Brown connecting for a three-point play and Mathis coming away with four points on two hoops under the net.
Michigan's 44-42 advantage held strong as Coleman extended it to seven on back-to-back three-point baskets to give Michigan a 50-43 lead with 4:57 left to play. The Wolverines' advantage peaked at eight, as Coleman hit his third-straight triple to give Michigan a 57-49 edge. Penn State wasn't backing down, however, and put together eight points on a triple and five free throws. With their slim two-point lead in jeopardy, Colman hit his fourth three-bagger of the contest with 34 seconds remaining to give Michigan a 62-57 lead and the cushion it needed to take the win.
U-M stays on the road, traveling to Bloomington, Ind., for its fourth Big Ten contest of the year against Indiana. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423