INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team advanced to the semifinal round of the 2004 Big Ten Tournament after defeating No. 4 seed Iowa 79-70 Friday afternoon (March 12) in front of 16,204 fans at Conseco Fieldhouse. The fifth-seeded Wolverines led by as many as 21 points before withstanding a late Hawkeye charge to advance to play No. 1 seed Illinois on Saturday (March 13) at 1:40 p.m. EST.
Harris set career highs with 23 points and six triples.
Freshman Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS)
led Michigan with a career-high 23 points, including 8-of-11 shooting from the field and a tie for the Big Ten Tournament record with six three-pointers. Sophomore Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS)
finished with 19 points and six rebounds, and sophomore Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS)
contributed 14 points and five boards. Senior Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.])
had a solid all-around performance with nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Pierre Pierce paced Iowa's offensive effort with a game-high 28 points.
The Wolverines had trouble finding their offensive touch in the early going, connecting on just one of their first five shots from the field. Iowa had better success with its execution, as the Hawkeyes hit six of their first seven shots to jump out to a 12-2 advantage at 17:13 of the first half. Michigan got back into contention with a 9-2 scoring run over the next seven minutes. Sophomore Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) got things going with two free throws off the bench, and Robinson followed with a tough left-handed layup off the glass. Abram closed out the run, converting on a three-point play before nailing a jumper with the shot clock winding down to bring U-M within three points, 14-11, with 10:42 left in the half.
Michigan continued to chip away at Iowa's lead, as Hunter put home two more free throws before Robinson swiped a Hawkeye pass and fed it to Horton for an easy lay-in to bring U-M within two points. After a defensive stop, Robinson made good on two shots from the line to tie the game at 17-17 at 7:28 of the first half. Erek Hansen put Iowa back in front with a short jumper, but Michigan would take its first lead of the game, 21-19, after a free throw from freshman Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) and Horton's first triple at 6:25.
The Wolverines stepped up their intensity on the defensive end, limiting the Hawkeyes to just two more field goals in the remaining six minutes of the half. Harris punished Iowa from the perimeter, scoring eight of U-M's final 11 first-half points off of two triples and another long jumper, allowing Michigan to take a 32-25 lead into the locker room.
Harris immediately picked up where he left off, scoring nine of the Wolverines' first 11 points of the second half. After cleaning up a Robinson miss inside, Harris connected on two straight triples and added another free throw, as U-M stormed out to a 43-27 lead with 16:47 to play. Abram kept the momentum in Michigan's favor, knocking down two straight triples of his own to push the lead to 49-30. Following two straight Iowa buckets, Harris continued his offensive barrage with another pair of three-pointers to put the Wolverines on top 55-34 with 12:06 to go in the game.
The Hawkeyes responded with a slight charge, outscoring Michigan 8-2 over the next four minutes to trim the deficit to 57-42. Freshman Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) answered with a left-handed slam down low, and Horton converted on another layup to keep U-M ahead 61-46 with 2:42 remaining.
Iowa nearly erased Michigan's lead, as Pierce scored 14 points during a 17-6 Hawkeye run to cut the lead to just four points, 67-63, with 2:37 to go. Fortunately, that would be as close as it would get, as Iowa's attempts from long range were off the mark and they were eventually forced to foul the Wolverines. U-M was able to seal the game with free throws, scoring its next eight points from the line. Hunter capped off the scoring with a tomahawk dunk in the final minute to give Michigan the nine-point victory.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423