ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the second time this week, the University of Michigan men's basketball team upended a ranked opponent as the Maize and Blue downed Wisconsin (No. 23 Associated Press/21 ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll), 85-76, Saturday (Jan. 28) in front of a second consecutive sellout crowd of 13,751 at Crisler Arena. The win moves the Wolverines (15-3, 5-2 Big Ten) into a first place tie in the Big Ten standings, and marked the first time in 12 years that the Wolverines defeated ranked opponents in back-to-back ball games.
Despite a late run, the Badgers (15-5, 5-2 Big Ten) could never overcome Michigan's hot start as the Wolverines led from the start to the finish of the game. U-M's hot start was highlighted by junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) who poured in 23-points on 8-of-12 shooting, including draining 5-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. In 36 minutes of action, Harris had four rebounds and dished out an assist.
In addition to Harris, fellow junior, center Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) went 8-of-10 from the field, en route to 18 points, while recording three rebounds and a block. For the second straight game, senior forward Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) came off the bench to score in double figures. Hunter finished with a season-best-tying 15 points, aided by going 6-for-7 from the free throw line. He added three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Senior guard Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) rounded out the four double-digit Michigan scorers as he had 14 points, after going a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, which tied the Crisler Arena record for free throw percentage in a game and marked the second time he went a perfect 10-for-10 on the season. Through seven Big Ten games, Horton has remained perfect from the free throw line as he is 38-for-38 in conference play.
Despite not hitting in double figures, senior forward Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) provided a spark throughout the contest as he tore down a game-high 12 rebounds, as he split six offensive boards with six defensive. He also had seven points and had a career-high-tying three assists.
The Wolverines worked the inside-outside game in the opening minutes of the first half, taking a 12-7 lead by the game's first timeout at 15:36. After a basket by Brown and four points by Sims down low, Harris netted two three-pointers, giving Michigan a five-point advantage. The Maize and Blue three-point barrage continued behind Harris, draining his third of the game, before a sophomore wing Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) three-ball extended the U-M lead to 20-11 at 12:25 in the first half. Michigan and Wisconsin traded baskets throughout the next eights minutes, before two baskets by junior forward Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) put the Wolverines ahead 28-21 at 3:43. The Badgers continued clawing at the Wolverines lead, eventually coming to within five (37-32), with just under two minutes remaining in the half.
Following a pair of Hunter free throws, successive baskets by Horton and Hunter concluded a Michigan 6-0 run, ending the first half with a 38-27 lead, U-M's biggest lead of the first half. The Wolverines controlled the paint in the first half, connecting on 10-of-12 shots down low, while out-rebounding the Badgers 19-to-14.
The second half picked up right where Michigan left off, as Sims and Harris combined for Michigan's first 10 points, as U-M nursed an 11-point lead (48-37), with 15:34 remaining in the second half. The Wolverines continuously mixed a healthy dose of inside-outside play for the next nine-minutes, as Harris's fifth three pointer of the afternoon gave Michigan its largest lead of the afternoon, 66-52, with just under six-minutes remaining in the game.
Three baskets by Sims followed, but Wisconsin guard Kammron Taylor countered with four three-pointers, en route to a game-high 29 points, to cut the Michigan advantage to 77-71 with 45-seconds remaining in the contest. A Horton steal with 26 seconds left, combined with eight-straight free throws iced the game for Wolverines, leading to a 85-76 victory.
Michigan will hit the road for two straight Big Ten match-ups. First up, the Wolverines will head to State College, Pa., Wednesday (Feb. 1) to play Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tipoff against the Nittany Lions is scheduled for 8 p.m. and it will be part of ESPN-Plus, local package. The Maize and Blue will close out the week at Iowa, Saturday (Feb. 4).
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423