ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Led by junior LaVell Blanchard's (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) 19th career double-double, the University of Michigan men's basketball team opened the 2001-02 regular season Friday (Nov. 16) with an 81-73 victory over Oakland University at Crisler Arena. The victory over the Golden Grizzlies also marked the first official game and win under first-year head coach Tommy Amaker.
Blanchard played 35 minutes in his first game back after an ankle injury, scoring 17 points and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds. Junior Gavin Groninger (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS) led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for 11-shooting to go along with five assists. Sophomore Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H]) led Michigan's bench attack with 15 points, four assists and two steals. Oakland was led by Dan Champagne, who finished the game with 18 points.
Groninger opened up the scoring with a three-point basket on Michigan's opening possession and senior Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS) added two dunks in the opening minutes to give the Wolverines the early 8-4 advantage. However, the game remained close until the 11:00-minute mark in the first half when sophomore Josh Moore (Newark, N.J./St. Thomas More Prep [Conn.]) entered the game and added a quick layup on his first trip down the floor. That basket sparked the Wolverines to a 10-2 run highlighted by Moore's two free throws and a triple from Blanchard. Oakland battled back but another jumper from Blanchard and a runner from sophomore Avery Queen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Redemption Christian Academy [N.Y.]) kept Michigan ahead by six with five minutes remaining in the first half.
After a media timeout, the Wolverines continued with their tenacious play on both ends of the court as they put together a 16-4 run to end the half with a 43-25 lead. Michigan converted on 7-of-8 free throws during the stretch.
After the half, Oakland kept coming back, cutting the lead to 11 points as the Golden Grizzlies went on a 10-3 run. The run was stymied by another Groninger three and a pair of free throws by freshman Chuck Bailey (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS). Both teams then went on a scoring drought until the Golden Grizzlies sank a pair of free throws with about 13:00 to play, with the Wolverines still up by 10, 51-41.
Michigan was unable to get on track offensively as Oakland's defense caused several Wolverine miscues, and a layup by Champagne cut U-M's lead to just four, 51-47. Moore brought the crowd back to its feet with a one-handed put-back but again Oakland responded as Jason Rozycki hit a three and cut the lead to just two points with 8:00 to go in the game.
But after the media timeout, Michigan went on a 13-3 run sparked by senior Mike Gotfredson's (Grosse Pointe, Mich./South HS) big three-point field goal, just the second basket in his career. The Golden Grizzlies attempted a final rally with 17 points in the final 3:40, but Michigan sank 9-of-12 free throws to close out the game for an 81-73 victory.
The Wolverines will continue their homestand at Crisler Arena on Tuesday (Nov. 20) when they take Fairfield at Crisler Arena beginning at 7 p.m.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423