ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team improved its record to a perfect 4-0 with a 74-53 victory over the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tuesday night (Nov. 29) at Crisler Arena. With the excitement in the air from the atmosphere, the Wolverines got off to a bumpy first half start but found their rhythm in the second half and gradually pulled away. The Maize and Blue used a 23-for-29 night from the foul line, and a 42-to-27 rebounding advantage, including 18 offensive rebounds to close out the Hurricanes.
Michigan finished the game with five players in double figures as junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) spearheaded the Maize and Blue effort with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists. Senior wing Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) pitched in with 14 points, four rebounds and a career-high four steals, while senior guard Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) added 13 points on three-of-five shooting from beyond the arc in addition to three assists and a steal.
Junior center Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) and senior forward Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) created a formidable frontcourt against the Hurricanes, as Sims posted 12 points and six rebounds, complementing Hunter's 11 points and two blocks. Senior forward Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) had four points, but added a career-high-tying 11 rebounds in addition to him drawing four charging calls.
As the game began scoreless for the first two minutes, Abram followed up a Miami (Fla.) basket with two free throws for Michigan's first points of the ball game. Harris followed suit with a pair of free throws of his own, before a Sims put-back gave the Wolverines a 6-2 lead with 16:18 left in the first half. A Hurricane bucket at 15:25 ended a two and a half minute scoring drought, sparking a 10-3 Hurricane run. The run featured three baskets by Miami (Fla.) center Gary Hamilton, giving the Hurricanes a 12-9 advantage at 11:49. The three-point lead would prove to be the Hurricane's largest lead of the game.
The Wolverines responded as a Sims three-point play tied the game at 12-12. Sims answered the bell once again connecting on a vicious fast break slam, at 8:44 in the first half, giving Michigan their first lead (16-14) since 14:46 in the first quarter. Harris then connected on two long-range bombs stretching the U-M advantage to 22-17 at just under seven minutes to play before half. Miami (Fla.) responded with two buckets before seven straight points by Hunter tied Michigan's biggest lead of the half, 29-22, with 2:36 left to go. Hunter's two free throws, with just over four minutes remaining in the first period, gave him 500-career points.
An Abram basket rounded out the Wolverine's first half effort, sending Michigan into the lockerroom with a 31-26 lead. At the break, Sims led all scorers with nine points in addition to his five rebounds. Harris added eight points and four boards to go along with Hunter's seven points. As a team the Wolverines out-rebounded the Hurricanes 25-to-13, in addition to outshooting Miami (Fla.) from the foul line, 10-of-11 compared to 1-of-2.
The Wolverines continued to execute in the second half as Abram sank two jumpers, extending the Michigan lead to 38-30, just over four minutes into the second period. The Wolverines' lead ballooned to 50-33, coming off pairs of buckets by Hunter and Brown in the post. During the run, Miami (Fla.) was held scoreless for just over four-minutes.
Harris continued his strong performance nailing a mid-range jump-shot, allowing Michigan to jump out to a 59-42 lead with 7:28 left to go in the game. Alongside Harris, Horton sustained his impressive play connecting on back-to-back field goals, before exiting the contest in the game's final minutes, with Michigan leading 64-44. Michigan ended the game on the charity stripe, connecting on four straight free throws, capping off the 21-point Wolverine victory.
Michigan will look to extend their winning streak Saturday (Dec. 3) when the Wolverines take on the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423