SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team kept its record perfect (5-0) with a clutch 71-67 road win over Notre Dame Saturday (Dec. 3) at Joyce Center. The win showed the depth, talent and poise of the solid Wolverine squad as numerous players stepped up in critical situations to keep themselves in the game and set up the opportunity for the victory in the final two minutes of play.
Brown had 13 points, hitting 6-of-6 from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.
Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Wolverines were juniors Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) and Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School). Harris finished the game with 12 points, including a clutch two-point basket with 16 seconds remaining to help seal the win for the Maize and Blue. Sims finished the game with 11 points to go along with nine rebounds, two blocks, one assist and a career-high-tying two steals.
This high-energy game saw momentum shifts at every turn as both teams battled it out, back and forth, for the duration of the contest. The afternoon began with the Fighting Irish building a 13-5 lead over the first five minutes of play as the Wolverines could manage just two field goals. Michigan began to battle back by going to the post as they rattled off eight-straight points to tie the game at 13 including four from Sims and two from Brown.
The remainder of the half was a constant back-and-forth battle as the final nine minutes saw three ties and nine lead changes. U-M's depth came into play as the tug-of-war went on as Michigan's 14 points for the rest of the half were spread out among four different players.
Down 25-20 after a six-point Notre Dame run, Michigan's accuracy from the floor and ability to bring down rebounds allowed them a seven-point drive putting them back into the game. The run was highlighted by baskets from senior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS), Horton and Sims and included two Wolverine assists and four rebounds.
After the seven straight points from the Maize and Blue, Notre Dame put up two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining in the half to leave the contest tied at 27 as the two teams headed into the locker rooms.
Energy stayed high for the second half and the score remained knotted as the minutes ticked on. After shooting 0-for-10 from three-point range in the first half, Notre Dame's stroke from beyond the arc became a factor. The Wolverines found themselves dealing with a hot-shooting Chris Quinn, who hit four from long range and contributed half of Notre Dame's points throughout the second half. Michigan never backed down, however, and maintained a steady stream of scoring thanks in large part to the play of Horton and Brown.
After beginning the second half tied at 27, the Wolverines built up a seven-point lead with the help of back-to-back triples from Horton and Harris. The advantage didn't last long, however, as the Fighting Irish hit back-to-back three-point baskets of their own to cut the Michigan lead to 41-38 with just over 15 minutes to go in the half.
The score went back and forth as both teams fought it out, and after seven more minutes of play, the score was tied once again. With the two teams knotted at 52, Notre Dame began to create some distance, going on a 7-1 run for a 59-53 lead with 5:41 remaining. The Wolverines immediately responded by piecing together a 7-0 run of their own with points coming from a trio of Michigan players.
Harris hit a short jumper to begin the Wolverine drive before sophomore Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) hit a clutch shot from beyond the arc to put Michigan within one. After Coleman's shot from long range, Horton made a play on Notre Dame point guard Kyle McAlarney for a steal before he was fouled to keep him from completing the fast break. He was placed at the charity stripe and sunk one plus the bonus to give the Maize and Blue a one-point advantage, 60-59, with just over four minutes remaining.
Notre Dame's threat from beyond the arc once again became a factor as the Fighting Irish hit back-to-back triples to reclaim the lead, 65-60, at the three-minute mark. With the game hanging in the balance, Brown took things into his own hands and converted a three-point play to put Michigan within two, 65-63, with 2:48 remaining.
A Michigan foul allowed Notre Dame to the line for one-and-one and the Fighting Irish sunk both from the charity stripe to extend their lead to four (67-63). As the clock ticked down, Brown continued his clutch play, immediately following the Notre Dame free throws with a layup to put Michigan within two (67-65) with just over two minutes to play in the contest.
The Fighting Irish tried to put the game out of reach with a three-point attempt, but a block from Horton into the hands of Brown gave the Wolverines possession and the chance to tie the game. After a timeout, a Wolverine miss on a shot from beyond the arc began a battle under the net, and Michigan came out the winner. Sims took the offensive board back up for two, which was tipped in by Brown to tie the game at 67 with 1:10 remaining.
Notre Dame again tried the three-point shot, but it didn't drop. The Fighting Irish grabbed the offensive rebound and tried to go up for two, but missed, and Brown came away with the defensive board. After another timeout, Michigan took possession with 40 seconds remaining and the chance to take the lead.
A clutch baseline jumper from Harris just inside the arc on a pass from Horton gave the Wolverines a 69-67 lead with just 17 seconds left on the clock. The Fighting Irish hurried down the court and attempted a field goal, but they couldn't convert and Sims came away with the rebound. He passed off to senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) who was immediately fouled and went to the line for one-and-one with under two seconds remaining.
With the chance to put the game away by giving the Wolverines a two-possession lead, Abram sunk both free throws to give Michigan the 71-67 lead and the victory.
The Wolverines will try to extend their winning streak as they return home to take on Delaware State this Wednesday (Dec. 7) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423