ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team kept its winning ways alive, moving to 3-0 on the season with a 78-74 down-to-the-wire victory over Butler this afternoon (Saturday, Nov. 26) at Crisler Arena. For the second-straight game, the Wolverines rode the clutch play of senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) who scored a game-high 28 points, including six straight clutch free throws in the final 40 seconds to close out the win for the Wolverines.
The Maize and Blue finished the hard-fought battle with two players reaching 20 points for the second time this season as Horton led the Maize and Blue with 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting while junior Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) had a career-high 10 field goals on 14 attempts for 21 points.
Horton's contribution went far beyond points as he paced the Wolverines with seven assists, four rebounds, four steals, one block and a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. All of Sims' 21 points were instrumental to the Michigan cause as he scored 18 of the Wolverines' 37 points in the first half. In addition to his scoring, Sims also added seven boards and one block.
Senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) also reached double digits for the third straight game, finishing the contest with 15 points. Abram went 6-for-9 from the floor including two triples, also coming away with four rebounds, two assists and one steal.
It looked as though the Wolverines were going to run away with the victory after they built a 10-point lead early in the second half, but a 13-0 Butler run sparked a momentum shift and the Wolverines found themselves down by eight (61-53) with just over nine minutes to play.
The Wolverines maintained a strong presence and put themselves back in the game with seven straight points. Horton sparked plays on both ends of the floor, grabbing two steals, dishing off two assists and hitting two from the free throw line to put Michigan back within one (61-60) with just under seven minutes remaining.
The score continued to see-saw back and forth for the remainder of the contest until the game was eventually tied at 70. With 49 seconds remaining, Horton broke the tie with a two-point basket before a Butler turnover gave the ball back to the Wolverines. Forced to foul with just under 30 seconds to go, Horton was put on the free throw line. He hit both shots to put Michigan up by four, 74-70, with 28 seconds remaining.
Though the Bulldogs drew a foul and converted both free throws, Horton was placed on the line two more times and hit all four of his free throws to seal the 79-74 victory for the Maize and Blue.
The game began with Butler establishing 12-6 lead within the first five minutes as the Wolverines had trouble connecting for points from the floor. Horton kept Michigan within close range of the Bulldogs, taking matters into his own hands for two of Michigan's first three shots, driving the basket twice for four points.
With Michigan down by six at the 15-minute mark, Sims became the go-to player for the Wolverines. Sims hit 7-of-9 over a nine-minute stretch including two offensive rebounds to record 14 straight points for Michigan. The run by the junior forward helped tie the game at 20 with just over six minutes to play in the half.
Horton and junior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) broke the streak by hitting back-to-back triples to give Michigan a six-point lead, 26-20, as the clock ticked down in the half. The Bulldogs didn't back down, however, and kept Michigan from establishing a significant lead by hitting five-straight points of their own.
With just a one-point advantage, 30-29, with 30 seconds remaining, the Wolverines mounted an eight-point lead with a 7-0 tear. After Harris drove the hoop for two, Horton converted a three-point play before Abram finished the half with a fast-break layup at the buzzer to put Michigan up 37-29 at the half.
Michigan will remain at home for their next contest, facing Miami (Fla.) for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tuesday (Nov. 29) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN 2.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423