ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan mens basketball team earned its fourth consecutive win with 68-61 decision over North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night (Dec. 2) at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (4-0) used an 11-2 run in the first half to erase a nine-point Wolfpack advantage, and U-M did not relinquish the lead in the final 22:25 minutes of the game.
Harris scored 14 points and tied career highs with three steals and four rebounds.
Michigan had four players score in double digits, with sophomore Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS)
leading the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Freshman Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS)
had a strong game with 14 points, including a perfect six-of-six from the free throw line. Senior Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.)
netted 10 points and a team-high four assists, while sophomore Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS)
had all 10 of his points from the charity stripe. Senior/junior J.C. Mathis (Brooklyn, N.Y./John F. Kennedy HS)
rounded out the top U-M performers with season-best six points and nine rebounds. Julius Hodge finished with a game-high 25 points for the Wolfpack.
The Wolverines got off to a fast start, building a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Freshman Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) put U-M on the scoreboard with a putback inside on the first possession. After sophomore Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) split a pair of free throws, Sims made it 5-0 with a tough bucket in the post. A Wolfpack air ball resulted in a fast break opportunity for Michigan, and Horton came down and buried a jumper to give the Wolverines a seven-point lead and cause an N.C. State timeout at 17:50.
Scooter Sherrill provided the Wolfpack with their first points on a triple coming out of the break. Robinson answered on the other end with a pull-up jumper from the left side. Robinson's basket was Michigan's last scoring for over six minutes, as N.C. State hit four triples during a 15-0 run to take an 18-9 lead with just over 12 minutes left until halftime.
Harris broke the U-M scoring drought with a wide-open dunk off a steal to cut the deficit to seven points. Following a basket from the Wolfpack, Abram hit four consecutive free throws to make the score 20-15 in favor of N.C. State. Michigan's feisty defense caused a shot clock violation, which resulted in a transition bucket from Hunter. Robinson capped off an 11-2 Michigan scoring run with his first three-pointer of the season, which pulled the Wolverines within three points, 23-20, with 6:49 remaining in the half.
Freshman Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) kept the momentum in favor of Michigan, slapping an attempt by Ilian Evtimov off the glass and into the hands of a U-M player. Harris converted two points from the line on the ensuing possession to cut N.C. State's lead to 23-22. After a pair of baskets from Harris and Mathis, Horton nailed his first three to give Michigan its first lead since 15:23 of the first half, 29-27 with 2:25 left until the break. A Sims putback and a rising dunk from the baseline by Harris allowed the Wolverines to take a 33-27 advantage into halftime. Michigan allowed just nine N.C. State points in the final 12:42 of the half.
Harris led the offensive charge for the Wolverines with eight first-half points. Hodge paced the Wolfpack with six points in the first frame.
Hodge kept N.C. State within striking distance with four unanswered points coming out of halftime. The Wolverines responded with a 6-2 run to go up 39-33, but N.C. State came back with five unanswered points to stay within one point, 39-38, at 14:36. Michigan was able to sustain the lead thanks to a 9-2 run over the next four minutes. Horton started the charge with a nice running jumper of the glass and Sims finished it with two free throws after a Wolfpack turnover to push U-M's lead to 48-40 with 10:07 remaining in the game.
Mathis kept things going on the offensive end with a bucket inside and Abram gave U-M another point with a free throw. A reverse basket from Harris on the baseline pushed Michigan's lead to 51-42 and forced N.C. State to call timeout with 6:52 left in the contest. The Wolfpack got their first field goal in nearly 10 minutes on a fast break layin from Hodge at 4:49. Hodge was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to cut the Michigan lead to 53-45.
Robinson and Horton dashed any hopes of a Wolfpack comeback, as both earned buckets inside to push the lead to a game-high 11 points with 2:37 left. N.C. State came within 65-61 toward the end due to the hot shooting of Hodge, but Abram's five points from the line in the final two minutes sent Michigan to its fourth win of the season.
The Wolverines will hit the road for their next game as they head to Nashville, Tenn., to take on Vanderbilt Saturday (Dec. 6) at 8 p.m. CST. Fox Sports Detroit will join the game in progress after the completion of the Detroit Red Wings ice hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423