ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team opened its 2005-06 campaign in style, defeating Central Michigan 87-60 in front of 11,484 fans at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines controlled the inside game from paint on the outset, outscoring the Chippewas 34-18 down low, while out-rebounding CMU 37-21 en route to the victory.
The Wolverines had three players in double figures, led by junior Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) who scored a game-high 20-points on 9-of-10 shooting in addition to six rebounds and two blocks. Senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) added 19 points to the Michigan effort, which included a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line. Junior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) rounded out the Maize and Blue lineup, connecting on three shots from downtown en route to his 13-points.
In addition to the trio of double digits scorers, senior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) contributed to the Wolverine victory with a career-best-tying 11 rebounds to go along with five points and one assist. Freshman Jerret Smith (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) showed his talent in his first-ever collegiate game in a Wolverine uniform, leading the team with nine assists in addition to eight points including two triples.
Michigan opened up the season on a positive note with senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) finding Abram backdoor for an easy lay-up just seconds into the ballgame. Abram, who sat out much of last season with a shoulder injury, connected on two free throws as Michigan took an early 4-2 lead. After a Horton free throw brought the game to 5-4, Sims rattled off six straight points allowing Michigan to gain an 11-9 advantage with 14:09 left in the first half. Sims got rolling with two consecutive turnaround moves in the post before Horton found the Boston native for a thunderous slam.
Following a Central Michigan free throw that knotted the game at 11, the Wolverines broke loose with a 13-1 run. A basket from senior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) got things started at 13:04 in the first period as Hunter would connect on two more free throws during the drive. Sims capped off the run by bullying his way into the lane for a bucket, extending the U-M lead to 24-12 with just over nine minutes to play.
The Wolverines and Chippewas traded baskets for the next several minutes, resulting in a 28-14 game with 7:09 left. The lead would balloon to 36-17 as the Maize and Blue looked down low, finding Brown and Abram for easy buckets in the paint. A pair of free throws by Smith would give Michigan its biggest advantage of the first half, 41-20, with 1:55 lingering in the first half. An Abram three-pointer would close out the first half with Michigan sporting a 44-26 lead. Abram and Sims led the Wolverines into the break, scoring a combined 22 of Michigan's 44 first-half points, by going a collective 9-of-10 from the field. Brown chipped in with eight boards and a block in 11-minutes of action.
An Abram three-point play at 19:06 in the second half was Michigan's only points of the second half until a Smith three-pointer at 12:44 got U-M back on the board with a 50-36 advantage. The Wolverines gradually extended their lead through the later part of the second half, as Harris connected on two three-pointers to push the Michigan advantage to 68-48 with 7:41 left in the game. The Chippewas continued to battle, slimming the lead to 72-55, before Michigan solidified their control by going on a 15-5 run to end the game.
The Wolverines will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel Boston, Mass., to take on Boston University Tuesday (Nov. 22) at the Agganis Arena. The game against the Terriers is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff and will be broadcast on the New England Sports Network (NESN). It will only be available on channel 623 on Direct TV in Ann Arbor.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423