MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- With a 71-55 decision Saturday (Jan. 21), the University of Michigan men's basketball team took their first victory from Minnesota in 13 years (Jan. 20, 1993) at Williams Arena. The win marked the first on the road for the Wolverines (13-3, 3-2 Big Ten) in Big Ten Conference action and broke a three-game series losing streak with the Golden Gophers.
Horton added four steals to his career-best 32 points.
The game began a little slow for the Wolverines as they struggled to get their offense going in the first half. But, after managing just a six-point lead at the break, the Maize and Blue broke things open in the second frame, hitting 43 points care of a 55.6 shooting percentage (15-of-27) while holding Minnesota to just 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the floor.
Michigan's solid offensive performance was paced by the perimeter-shooting tandem of senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) and junior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS). Horton turned in a gem of a performance, recording a career-high 32 points on 8-of-16 shooting including six triples and a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Horton was a major factor in the Wolverine win, scoring 15 of Michigan's 28 first-half points before following that up with 17 in the second frame. His ability to force turnovers and balance finding the open man with taking the open shot helped Michigan take over offensively and eventually break away with the significant 16-point win.
Harris was also a key player in the victory, putting up 13 of his 16 tallies in Michigan's second half. Harris made his presence known, switching up the short jumper with shots from beyond the arc while bringing down four rebounds, dishing off four assists, grabbing one steal and recording his 10th-career block.
The first half went back-and-forth with significant scoring drives by each team, with Michigan ultimately coming out with the advantage at the half. Both teams played solid defense, particularly Wolverine senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) who managed to shut down Minnesota top scorer Vincent Grier to just two points in the first frame.
The half began with the Gophers putting up a quick two points before the Wolverines quickly responded by going on a 9-0 run. They held Minnesota scoreless over a five-minute span for a 9-2 lead with 15:57 remaining in the frame. Horton was the primary force in the scoring drive, putting up two of his four first-half triples while turning one into a four-point play.
The Gophers were quick to tie things up, however, and went on a run of their own, scoring seven points while holding Michigan scoreless over a three-minute span. But after Minnesota tied things up, the Wolverines went on a 12-point tear jump-started by Abram who went coast-to-coast to break Michigan's three-minute scoring drought.
After the scoring drive, Michigan held a 21-9 advantage at the 9:22-mark but were unable to score again for the next six minutes, going 0-for-5 from the floor over that span. The Gophers took advantage of the Wolverines' scoring trouble and closed the gap, scoring nine points to cut Michigan's lead to three (21-18) with 3:39 left in the half.
But the Maize and Blue got things rolling again after a Minnesota foul put Horton at the line for one plus the bonus. He drained both free throws for a 23-18 Michigan advantage, and the teams began to trade baskets as the clock wound down. After a goal tending call that put Minnesota within three, Abram took a steal coast-to-coast for his second fast-break layup of the half to again give Michigan a two-possession advantage.
Minnesota responded with a quick two from the floor and had the chance to get within one of the Wolverines at the charity stripe. But they missed both free throws and, with the score at a 25-22 Michigan advantage, Horton closed out first-half scoring with his fourth triple of the game for a 28-22 lead heading into the locker rooms.
After a relatively close first half, the Wolverines came out with a vengeance, quickly rattling off 15 points in less than four minutes to take a drastic 42-26 lead at the outset of the second frame. The scoring drive was jump-started with three-straight three-point plays from Harris, Horton and Abram. The free throw to finish Abram's three-point play was shot by sophomore Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS), however, as Abram suffered a left ankle sprain while coming down off the layup.
Minnesota didn't back down, however, and chipped away at the Michigan lead over the next six minutes. While the Wolverines had trouble putting up points, the Gophers quietly threw up two and three-point shots to cut the Michigan lead to seven (49-42) at the 10-minute mark.
Though Minnesota managed to cut Michigan's advantage back to single digits, the Wolverines got the wheels turning again with four straight free throws from Horton, sparking a spree of Maize and Blue scoring. With a 53-44 lead after Horton's free throws, Michigan went on to outscore Minnesota 18-11 for the remainder of the contest. Of those 18 points, Harris accounted for 10 of them as he went on a tear, at one point putting up seven-straight points, including a triple, to guide Michigan to its 71-55 win.
The Wolverines will return home for a pair of games next week. First up will be the intrastate battle with Michigan State, Wednesday (Jan. 25) at Crisler Arena. The game, which is sold out, will be an 8 p.m. tipoff and will be part of the ESPN-Plus, local package.
The Maize and Blue will then close out the week with Wisconsin, Saturday (Jan. 28) at Crisler at 2:35 p.m. The game is part of the Buy 2 Get 2 ticket promotion where fans get buy two tickets for the game against the Badgers and then recieved two tickets for either Ohio State (Feb. 9) or Illinois (Feb. 21), while supplies last.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423