STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team broke a three-game losing skid with a 69-59 victory over Penn State Saturday (Jan. 24) at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Wolverines (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) were able to sustain a 10-point halftime lead due to a solid performance on both ends on the floor in the final 20 minutes.
Abram's 5-of-5 performance helped Michigan shoot .929 (13-14) at the free throw line.
Sophomore Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS)
led all scorers with 19 points, including 6-of-8 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the line. Freshman Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS)
chipped in 15 points, including three triples, and sophomore Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS)
netted 13 points and handed out five assists. Sophomore Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS)
turned in a solid effort with seven boards and two blocks, while senior Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.)
collected eight points, five assists and three blocks. Marlon Smith led a quartet of double-digit scorers for PSU with 15 points.
The rim was unkind to the Wolverines in the first few minutes of the game, as U-M's first four offensive attempts were off the mark. Trailing 4-0, Robinson finally put Michigan on the board with a layup at 16:56. One minute later, Harris converted on another hoop inside to knot the score at four apiece. Following a dunk by Penn State's Ndu Egekeze, Michigan scored seven unanswered points over the next three minutes to take an 11-6 advantage with 11:54 remaining in the first half. The spurt featured a triple from Harris and a pair of layups from senior/junior J.C. Mathis (Brooklyn, N.Y./John F. Kennedy HS) and Horton.
Smith broke a four-minute PSU scoring drought with a layup to cut the deficit to three points, but the Wolverines reeled off seven more unanswered points to go up 18-8. Robinson and Horton got things going with a pair of jumpers, and Abram finished with a conventional three-point play to put U-M up by 10 points and force a Penn State timeout at 8:14. After the break, Harris nailed his second triple to put the Wolverines ahead 21-8.
Jan Jagla's layup gave the Nittany Lions their first basket in nearly four minutes, and PSU scored four more unanswered points to trim the Michigan lead to 21-15 with 5:25 left until halftime. Robinson and Abram kept the Wolverines in front, combining for the next eight points. Michigan's defense only allowed two Penn State field goals in the final three minutes of the half, and Horton's three-pointer at 1:06 gave the Wolverines a 32-22 lead heading into the locker room.
Robinson and Harris contributed eight points each for Michigan in the first half, while Abram and Horton chipped in seven apiece. Ben Luber led Penn State in the first frame with eight points.
The Nittany Lions scored the first four points of the second half to cut the lead to six points, but the interior execution by Michigan produced three layups in a span of a minute. Jagla kept Penn State within reach, hitting two straight triples to make the score 38-32 in favor of U-M.
The Wolverines stepped up the intensity on the defensive end, forcing Penn State to commit turnovers that created fast-break opportunities for the Maize and Blue. Horton was the main catalyst in the defensive effort, blocking a PSU jumper and sending the ball down to Harris, who hit another trey to put U-M ahead 43-32 with 14:59 to play. Michigan's next offensive possession saw Harris push the lead to 13 points with another bucket in transition.
Abram made sure that Michigan's lead would hold, scoring eight of U-M's next 10 points, including two triples. Penn State made a late charge with five unanswered points, but freshman Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) quickly quieted the crowd with his first of two thunderous dunks. The Nittany Lions would get as close as eight points, but a pair of free throws each from Harris and Horton sealed the 10-point victory.
The Wolverines will head back to Crisler Arena after completing their three-game road swing. The Maize and Blue takes on Iowa Wednesday (Jan. 28) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff for the ESPN-Plus game is scheduled for 7:04 p.m. The game will be shown on UPN-50 in the Detroit area.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423