ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In its second and final exhibition test of the season, the University of Michigan men's basketball team found itself in a battle against the Nike Elite this afternoon (Sunday, Nov. 11) but was unable to escape with the victory, falling 79-71. The game featured six ties, but the Wolverines were unable to pull ahead despite surmounting an inconsistent first half by piecing together a 14-point comeback to begin the second frame.
The Maize Rage student group, seated behind the benches in their new seats for the first time this season, was treated to a 16-point performance from Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS), who led all Michigan scorers. Freshman Chuck Bailey (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS) started at forward and pulled down nine boards to accompany eight points. Nike Elite's Rick Hughes poured in a game-high 26 points and dominated the glass as well with 16 rebounds. Curt Smith added 20 for Nike Elite.
Smith opened scoring with a three from the right flank that was quickly countered by Avery Queen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Redemption Christian Academy [N.Y.]) on the other end of the floor and Young put away four consecutive Wolverine points with a two-handed dunk as he drew a foul from Richard Shaw. His free throw put Michigan ahead 8-7 three minutes into the game.
Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]) entered the game after the first timeout for his first test of the exhibition season and quickly made his presence felt with a jump shot from the five feet out that made the score 13-10. Ingerson then hit a three-pointer. On the next possession, Queen took the ball atop the arc and found a sweeping Bailey behind Nike Elite's defense. Bailey grabbed the ball in the air and laid it in the hoop for Michigan's seventh straight point. The crowd erupted moments later at 13:01 when the freshmen Dommanic Ingerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS) and Bailey connected on an alley-oop of their own for a 20-13 lead.
Nike Elite kept close, however, and was able to grab the lead on a Hughes runner at 11:15. Hughes' second basket on the Nike Elite's next trip down the floor gave his team a three-point advantage and added to his 17-point half. The comeback came while the Wolverines were going scoreless for nearly three minutes.
The Wolverines worked the ball around to an open Gavin Groninger (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS), who lined up for his first three of the day. A Bailey jumper responded to Nike Elite's own three-point shot and tied the score at 28 with less than eight minutes left in the half. Another slumber befell the Wolverine offense, though, as the Nike Elite went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes, highlighted by an Antwon Hall dunk in transition at 4:50 and a Coleco Buie thee-pointer which prompted Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker to call timeout in order to collect his troops.
After the timeout Michigan looked to settle down on offense by passing the ball around the perimeter in search of an inside dish. None was found, however, but Young's jumper from 10 feet away broke the Michigan drought at nearly four and a half minutes. Ingerson was awarded two free throws as time expired in the first half. He converted one of them and Nike Elite led 48-34 as both teams went into the locker room.
Michigan was more patient on offense to begin the second half, setting up Young for a layup and working the ball around for Queen to hit from outside with 17:38 left. The Wolverines worked hard on the defensive end as well, drawing an offensive foul and cleaning up any errant shots.
A Robinson triple at 13:46 brought the Wolverines within six, 52-46. The offense was assisted by a strong defensive front. Young drew an offensive charge, which Queen made costly with his three-pointer at the opposite end. Four straight turnovers kept the Nike Elite at bay for almost four minutes, until Ted Dupay's runner reestablished a three-point lead. The comeback was finally completed at 11:21, however, with a Robinson three-pointer that tied the score at 55.
At 8:12, Josh Moore's (Newark, N.J./St. Thomas More Prep [Conn.]) defensive rebound sprung Robinson into open court. Robinson's high-flying dunk over a Nike Elite defender sealed the two-pointer and put Michigan back within three. Dupay made his first three of the afternoon, however, and the Nike Elite would not relent, although Moore was able to draw a foul on a nice hook atop the key. The three-point play brought the Wolverines within one and Young's 16th point tied the game once again at 4:26.
With Nike Elite ahead by five in the final minute of play, Young rebounded Dupay's missed free throw but, in search of a three, Ingerson's pass led Robinson too far and the pass went out of bounds. Dupay then hit two free throws when Michigan sent him to the line, icing the game for the Nike Elite, 79-71, with 42.3 seconds remaining.
The Wolverines begin regular-season play Friday (Nov. 16) as they play host to Oakland University at 7 p.m. at Crisler Arena.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423