ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team opened its 2006-07 season with a rousing 60-40 victory over Central Connecticut State Blue Devils Friday night (Nov. 11) at Crisler Arena. Tipping off an hour later than expected due to game one of the John Thompson Challenge, where Davidson defeated Easter Michigan 81-77, both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half. However, the Wolverines regrouped, shooting 12-for-19 from the field, including 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, after halftime.
Senior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) led a trio of double-digit scoring Wolverines with a game high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including 5-for-8 from three-point range. He also collected three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes of playing time. Junior Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) had 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field, in addition to three rebounds, an assist and a block. Coleman scored eight of his 10 points in the first half to lead U-M. Senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) rounded out the scoring with 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. He also tallied six boards, five assists and a block. Senior Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough HS) produced a solid all-around game with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting and nine rebounds.
Neither team could get much going early on, as the score stalled at a 4-1 Michigan lead at 17:06 in the first half. With Central Connecticut shooting 16.7-percent from the field and U-M connecting on one of only two field goal attempts, scoring opportunities were few and far between. Connecting on a pair of baskets, Coleman stretched the lead to 12-4 at 10:09. He eventually gained help in the post, as both Sims and sophomore Jerret Smith (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) came away with low post buckets during the 8-3 run.
Harris matched two three-pointers by the Blue Devils with a pair of his own later in the half, extending the Michigan lead to 20-10, with 2:39 remaining before halftime. Harris finished the first half with seven points on 2-for-5 shooting with both baskets coming from beyond the three-point line. He also added a steal and an assist in the first 20-minutes of action.
Shooting 4-for-26 in the first half, with three of their baskets coming from three-point land, the Blue Devils entered the halftime break trailing the Wolverines 23-14. Evenly matched statistically, both teams finished with three points from the free-throw line as Michigan held a one rebound advantage, 21-to-20. U-M and CCSU finished with nine and 10 first half turnovers, respectively.
Out of the locker room, the Maize and Blue continued to turn up the defensive intensity by holding Central Connecticut to only three made field goals in the first five minutes of the half. Michigan found its offensive stride in the opening moments, moving the ball against the Blue Devil zone-defense with Sims scoring inside before going back outside to Harris. A Harris bucket at 13:55 widened the U-M advantage to 38-21 with 13:55 left in the game.
The Michigan lead continued to swell, 53-29, on Harris' fifth and final three pointer of the night at 5:55 in the second half. Abram contributed five points during the 13-5 run that gave the Maize and Blue their largest lead of the game. Both teams would exchange baskets until the final horn.
The Wolverines are slated to face Davidson Saturday (Nov. 11) in day two of the John Thompson Challenge hosted at Crisler Arena. The Maize and Blue will be the second game of the day, as Eastern Michigan is set to play Central Connecticut State at 2 p.m.. Michigan's game is scheduled to tipoff at 4 p.m.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423