-- LaVell Blanchard (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS)
scored a season-high 26 points as the No. 10-seeded University of Michigan men's basketball team led No. 7 seed Northwestern wire to wire in a 72-51 first-round win in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday (March 7) at Conseco Fieldhouse. With the win, the Wolverines (11-17) earned a quarterfinal-round matchup with Ohio State on Friday (March 8) at 6:40 p.m.
In addition to Blanchard's standout performance, the Wolverines were led by Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS) and Dommanic Ingerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS), who notched 14 and 13 points, respectively. Junior Leon Jones (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep. [Mass.]) scored nine points and contributed to Michigan's strong backcourt play.
Blanchard helped the Wolverines to a 36-28 halftime lead with 17 points in the first frame and gave Michigan a much-needed boost as Northwestern surged late in the half.
Michigan used a 9-1 run to begin the game to build as much as a 13-point lead, 27-14, midway through the half on a Jones triple. The Wildcats silently merged a comeback, connecting on back-to-back three-pointers from Tavaras Hardy and Vedran Vukusic as part of a 12-3 run over nearly five minutes before the end of the half.
Blanchard responded for the Maize and Blue, however, as he connected on two important three-pointers in the final minutes of the half to establish an eight-point cushion as the teams headed to the locker room.
Michigan extended its lead to 17 points with an 11-2 run to begin the second half. Blanchard continued his hot start with five points over that stretch, including a trey at 15:12 to cap the run and eclipse his previous season high of 20 points.
Threes from Hardy and Jason Burke helped Northwestern climb back into contention, as the Wildcats ran with 11 consecutive points to cut the score to six, 47-41. However, the Maize and Blue held Northwestern silent for nearly seven minutes down the stretch, building a game-high 22-point lead before taking the game with a final score of 72-51.
The Wolverines' quarterfinal contest against the Buckeyes is scheduled to tip off at 6:40 p.m. on ESPN Regional television. Ohio State has bested the Wolverines on two occasions this season, including an 84-75 victory last Saturday (March 2) at Crisler Arena.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423