STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team (No. 21 AP, No. 20 ESPN/USA Today) extended its winning streak to five games with a 71-65 victory at Penn State (Feb. 1) to remain tied atop the Big Ten leaderboard through the first half of conference play. The Wolverines (16-3, 6-2 Big Ten) demonstrated the complete talent of their team, maintaining a solid presence down low while exploding from the perimeter, hitting a season-high 12-of-25 from beyond the arc compared to the Nittany Lions' (10-9, 2-6 Big Ten) 5-of-18.
Junior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) was the main weapon in Michigan's perimeter play, recording a career-best 7-of-11 from long range leading to a team-high 23 points. Harris capitalized on open shots, hurting the Nittany Lions with his accuracy and consistency, hitting 8-of-13 from the floor. In addition, his 23 points made him the 40th Michigan player all-time to reach at least 1,000 points, now holding 1,015 career tallies as a Wolverine.
Senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) continued to show his all-around talent, recording his third-career double-double with 13 points and a career-best 12 assists. Horton's quiet way of running the floor came back to bite the Nittany Lions as he laid low, dishing the ball off to open teammates before demonstrating his stroke with a clutch seven points in the final five minutes of the contest to secure the Michigan victory.
Sophomore Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) once again showed his value to this Wolverine squad, completing the trio of Michigan double-digit scorers with 10 points. In his third-consecutive start, Coleman came up with clutch points for the Maize and Blue, recording 4-of-7 from the floor with two triples and two boards.
The Wolverines had to work for this win, getting off to a slow start at the outset of the contest, allowing the Nittany Lions to jump out to an early lead. Penn State took a six-point lead care of an 8-0 run before the game hit a lull. Both teams began batting the ball out of play resulting in a slow-paced contest, and the two teams began to trade baskets as the clock ticked on.
There was a minimal amount of scoring over the next six minutes until the Wolverines turned to their post players for some go-to shots to help chip away at the Nittany Lion lead. Michigan went down low to junior Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) and senior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./AuSable HS) who combined for eight points to put the Wolverines within two (16-14) with 8:47 remaining.
With the first frame more than halfway over, the Maize and Blue turned to their arsenal of perimeter players to get the job done for the remainder of the half. Within the final eight minutes of play, five of Michigan's last six shots from the field would be triples with three of those three-point baskets belonging to Harris.
Coleman got things going from beyond the arc for his second field goal of the night to put Michigan ahead, 19-18, for the first time since 17:35 in the half. Penn State responded with two from the floor but then Horton hit a triple for his first field goal of the night to put Michigan back ahead, 22-20, with 6:51 left.
The remainder of the half would go back-and-forth between the two teams as Penn State heated up from the floor to make things interesting. But Michigan put things into the hands of Harris and he responded beautifully, turning in the Maize and Blue's final 11 points of the half. As the Nittany Lions hung in there, Harris didn't miss, going 4-of-4 with three triples to give Michigan a 33-31 lead heading into the locker rooms.
It looked as though U-M was going to run away with the win as the second half began, as the Maize and Blue hit three triples within the first four minutes to take a 44-35 lead at the 16:41 mark. Harris continued his accuracy, responsible for two of the three from long range with Coleman draining the third.
But Penn State wasn't going to make things easy for Michigan as the Nittany Lions put together a 5-0 run to make it a four-point game (44-40). The Wolverines responded with something they did all game, however, turning to their post players for a much-needed score. This time it was senior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) who hit the two-point shot, but came away with three as he was fouled and drained his free throw to convert the three-point play.
With a 47-40 lead with 13:14 remaining, the Nittany Lions again showed they weren't going to back down, putting up two straight shots to put them within three. Michigan found a spark and went on a tear, however, stringing together seven straight points to jump ahead 54-44 at the halfway point.
Michigan enjoyed its biggest lead of the night after another scoring drive, recording eight points to Penn State's five to take a commanding 62-49 advantage with 6:26 to go in the contest. The Nittany Lions seemed to come out of nowhere, however, and before the Wolverines knew what had happened, they found themselves clinging to a three-point lead with 2:52 remaining in the game.
The Maize and Blue had hit a scoring drought, recording just two points over a three-minute span, while the hot-shooting Nittany Lions drained four from the floor, including two triples, while hitting two from the charity stripe. All of a sudden, Michigan held just a 64-61 lead with plenty of time remaining on the clock (2:52) for Penn State to push ahead.
The Wolverines held their ground, however, thanks to that go-to shot from Michigan's strong post players. With 2:18 to go in the game, Brown took the reigns, draining a big shot under the net for a 66-61 Michigan advantage. Though the Nittany Lions quickly responded with two points of their own, Horton proved he is a constant threat as he coolly hit his third triple of the night with 57 seconds on the clock to ultimately seal the 71-65 victory for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines will wrap up the week with their second Big Ten road game as the Maize and Blue travel to Iowa City, Iowa, Saturday (Feb. 4) to face at 23rd-ranked Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tipoff is schedule for a 5:10 p.m. EST start (4:10 p.m. CT, locally) and will be part of the ESPN-Plus, regional package.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423