ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team showed they can play with the big boys as they turned in a 72-67 win over No. 11 Michigan State in front of a sellout crowd, Wednesday (Jan. 25), at Crisler Arena.
Trailing 39-32 at the break, the Wolverines (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten) mounted a second-half comeback against the Spartans (15-5, 3-3 Big Ten) thanks in large part to stellar play from senior forward Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS), who recorded 13 points in the second frame, and a significant advantage at the free throw line, finishing the game 27-of-34 from the charity stripe compared to the MSU's 6-of-10. The victory was the first for the Wolverines over their intrastate rival since the 2002-03 season (Jan. 26, 2003) and marks Michigan's best record since the 1992-93 season when the Maize and Blue began the year 15-2.
Senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) led a trio of double-digit scoring Wolverines with a game-high 23-points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. Going 8-of-8 from the foul line, Horton continued his perfect shooting from the charity stripe in conference play, extending his mark to a sterling 28-or-28. With his five assists, the Cedar Hill native joins U-M's prestigious 400 assist club.
Hunter, who's 13 points all came in the second half, was the spark the Wolverines needed to catch and overtake the hot-shooting Spartans. With his team down by six at the outset of the second frame, the 6-11 forward recorded seven points in under two minutes to give Michigan its first lead since the opening two minutes of the game. He did it all, maintaining a strong presence down low while also hitting one from beyond the arc to finish the game 4-of-9 with one triple, five rebounds and two blocks.
Senior forward Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./AuSable HS) posted 10 points, on 3-of-6 shooting from the field, and seven boards. In addition to the double-digit scorers, sophomore wing Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) made his third start of the season, turning in a clutch nine points on 4-of-5 shooting with one triple and three rebounds.
Down by nine (41-32) in the opening seconds of the second half, Michigan slowly chipped at the Spartans' lead, going on a 11-4 run, bringing the Wolverines to within a basket (45-43), with 12:07 remaining in the second half. Five of Michigan's 11 points during the span came from Brown who connected on two crowd-pleasing dunks.
After a pair of Hunter free throws tied the game at 45, junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) found Hunter open along the baseline for the lead-taking three-pointer. Ahead 48-45 with 11:14 remaining in the game, Michigan contained the MSU offense for the rest of the night, never relinquishing the advantage.
The Michigan lead ballooned to eight (64-56) behind the play of Horton, who netted 10 points in just over three minutes, thanks to two three-point baskets. The Spartans attempted to come back in the waning minutes of the game, but failed attempts on the offensive end to ice the Michigan victory.
Horton proved to be Michigan's first half catalyst as well, netting two early baskets, including a three pointer from the corner, giving the Wolverines an early 5-0 advantage at 19:30 in the first half. Despite an energetic start by the Wolverines, Michigan State countered with an aggressive man-to-man defense, forcing the Maize-and-Blue into a drought lasting almost five minutes.
Horton continued to carry the Wolverines on his back midway through the first half, finding junior Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) cutting for an acrobatic backdoor layup (14:36). The Petway score cut the Spartan advantage to 13-9, but U-M would have to wait another 4:50 before scoring another field goal, this time a layup by Harris, trimming the deficit to 19-11.
Throughout the first period, Horton kept the Wolverines to within striking distance, accounting for 13 points, including 6-of-6 from the foul line. Coleman joined in the act later in the half, drilling three-straight buckets, including a three-pointer from the wing, bringing Michigan to within 10 (34-24) with just under four minutes to play (3:58).
Michigan finished the opening half on the foul-line, draining 12-of-14, pulling the Wolverines to within 39-32 at halftime.
The Wolverines close out the week against Wisconsin (No. 23 AP/No. 21 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll), 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