ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team opened its 2005-06 season today (Saturday, Nov. 5) with a 77-69 exhibition win over Grand Valley State at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines stormed out of the gates, gaining a 24-point second-half advantage before a late Laker run cut the lead to eight with five minutes to go. The Maize and Blue proved to be too much however, as a series of free throws sealed the U-M victory.
Senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) led four Wolverines in double figures with 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five assists and three steals, while senior wing Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) chipped in with 10 points. Senior forward Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) paced the front court with 15 points, including going 2-for-3 from three-point land, while also collecting six rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Senior forward Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable) added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field.
Knifing into the lane, a Horton right handed lay-up gave the Wolverines an early 6-2 advantage, before a Grand Valley run give them their only lead of the game, 9-8, with 13:33 remaining in the first half.
U-M responded quickly as a Horton three-pointer from the corner regained the lead for the Wolverines at 11-9 (13:19). The bucket jumpstarted a 9-0 Michigan run that featured Horton finding Abram on a backdoor lay-up to increase the lead to 13-9 with 12:32 left in the first half. Horton connected with Abram two possessions later on a fast break slam, stretching the U-M advantage to 17-9 (11:49).
The teams traded buckets, before a three-point play by freshman guard Jerret Smith (Romulus, Michigan/Romulus HS), extended the lead to 25-13 (8:14). On the play, Smith crossed over a Lakers defender as he slithered into the lane for the hoop and the foul.
Michigan's lead continued to swell to 39-22 (2:51) behind two three-pointers by Horton. The Wolverines also turned up the defensive intensity during the stretch as two monster blocks by Hunter drew boisterous applauses from the Crisler Arena crowd.
A fall-away slam by senior Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) concluded the first half for the Maize-and-Blue, as Michigan entered the locker room up 41-28. Sims ended the first period of play with five points and four rebounds, to go along with a block and two steals. Horton added in a team leading, 12 points on three-of-four shooting from beyond the arc.
U-M came out strong in the second half, going on a 18-7 run, ballooning their lead to 59-35 (11:37), guided by the strong play of Hunter who connected a three pointer followed up by an inside bucket and two free throws.
Nevertheless, GVSU would not lie down for the Wolverines as the Lakers exploded for a 25-9 spurt, bringing the lead to 68-60, with just over five-minutes to play. U-M held the Grand Valley surge off in the final minutes connecting on five straight free throws.
Michigan's second and final exhibition contest will be at 7 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 11) when the Wolverines host Northern Michigan at Crisler Arena.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423