NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team fell just shy in its bid to upset No. 18 Arizona, dropping a 61-60 overtime decision to the Wildcats in the Preseason NIT semifinals Wednesday night (Nov. 24) in front of 9,664 fans at Madison Square Garden. The Wolverines (3-1) held a 21-11 advantage midway through the first half, but Arizona (3-1) fought back to cut the lead to two points at halftime. The second half featured 12 lead changes before the Wildcats squeezed out the one-point victory in overtime.
Hunter posted 11 points, four boards and a blocked shot in 23 minutes off the bench.
Sophomore Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) came up big for U-M in the late stages of the game, scoring six of his 11 points in the final eight minutes of action. Sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) posted eight points and pulled down eight rebounds, while sophomore John Andrews (West Bloomfield, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS) collected two steals and dished out two assists in a career-high 21 minutes in place of the injured Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS).
Hunter started off things with a dunk on Michigan's opening possession in overtime, but Arizona reeled off five unanswered points to take a 60-57 lead with 2:22 to go. Harris, Horton and Hunter all earned trips to line in the final two minutes, but each split a crucial pair of free throws that would have thrust U-M back into the lead. With the Wildcats holding a 61-60 advantage, Horton's scooping layup attempt in the final seconds fell short and Arizona corralled the rebound with 0:00.1 left on the clock.
The Wolverines came out firing from long range, scoring their first nine points of the game from behind the arc. Junior Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS) got U-M on the scoreboard with a triple from the wing in the opening minute, while Mustafa Shakur drained a three-pointer at 17:24 to give the Wildcats their first basket. Horton connected on two straight triples in the next minute to stake Michigan to a 9-7 lead heading into the first timeout at 15:52 of the first half.
Following the break, sophomore Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) took a feed from Horton in transition and slammed home his first bucket to put the Wolverines ahead by four points. Arizona responded with a two unanswered baskets in the paint to knot the score at 11-11 with 14:18 remaining in the first half.
A tip-in hoop by Petway spurred on a 10-0 Michigan run over the next five minutes. Harris scored a layup after a pretty behind-the-back move on the break, and Hunter followed with a long jumper to give U-M a 17-11 advatange. Horton then stepped up his play on the defensive end with two straight steals at midcourt, which resulted in a pair of easy baskets to put Michigan ahead 21-11 with 9:27 left until halftime.
Arizona broke a six-minute scoring drought with five unanswered points to trim the U-M lead to 21-16, but Horton came up with another steal and knocked home a pair of free throws to get the Wolverines back on track. Another quick 4-0 Wildcat run cut the deficit to two points, 23-21, with four minutes left in the first half.
Michigan was able to sustain a 27-25 lead heading into halftime thanks to a tough shot in traffic by Harris and a fast-break bucket from Sims after a huge block by Petway on the opposite end. U-M finished the half shooting 42 percent from the field (11-26), while the Wolverine defense limited Arizona to just 23 percent (9-38). Horton paced Michigan with 10 points, four assists and three steals in the first 20 minutes.
The Wildcats opened the second half with a 6-1 run to take their first lead since early in the first half, 31-28. Junior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio AuSable HS) gave U-M its first second-half field goal with a tip-in basket at 17:03. Sims kept the Wolverines in contention with a fast-break dunk, and a jumper by Horton allowed Michigan to reclaim a 34-33 lead.
The teams exchanged baskets over the next four minutes, as Harris connected on a triple and Hunter put home three straight points of his own to tie the score at 40-40 with 10:56 to go in regulation. Petway once again energized the Wolverines with two straight put-back slams to put U-M out in front 44-40 with 8:50 left.
Arizona scored six unanswered points to regain a two-point lead, but Petway put home a short jumper from the baseline to knot things up once again at 46-46 with 6:27 remaining. Harris scored Michigan's next four points on a free throw and another three-pointer to put the Wolverines ahead by one point, but Jawann McClellan nailed a triple of his own to give the Wildcats a 52-50 edge with 3:09 left in regulation.
It was Hunter who then stepped up on the offensive end, converting on a three-point play to allow Michigan to regain a slight two-point lead. Trailing 55-53 with 1:09 to play, Hunter took a huge charge on defense, which eventually resulted in a lay-in by Harris that tied the score at 55-55 heading into overtime.
The Wolverines will face Providence in the Preseason NIT consolation game Friday (Nov. 26) at Madison Square Garden. The 4:30 p.m. contest will be televised by ESPN2.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423