ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team upped its record to 6-1 with an 85-75 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas Saturday afternoon (Dec. 20) at Crisler Arena. Sophomore wing Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) led the Wolverines in scoring with a career-high 24 points, shooting 9-14 from the field with three triples and three rebounds. Senior wing Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.) accumulated 22 points with five assists and brought down seven rebounds.
Abram scored a career-high 24 points, including 13 in the first half to help Michigan to a 50-32 edge at intermission.
The Wolverines maintained the lead throughout the entire contest, but the first and second halves were like night and day. Michigan pulled ahead early, controlling the drives and establishing an 18-point lead going into the locker room. But the Wolverines could not settle back, finding themselves in a head-to-head battle in the second half.
The Wolverines dominated the game right out of the gates, allowing the Chippewas only two points for the first nine minutes of play. Michigan then set the pace with a 23-0 run in which it was able to score on every possession. The drive was a team effort, with six different players putting up points on the board during the stretch. Robinson and freshman guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) led the way, each adding six points to Michigan's growing lead.
The Wolverines also dominated on the defensive end, bringing down nine rebounds throughout their 23-point run. Sophomore center Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) and senior/junior forward J.C. Mathis (Brooklyn, N.Y./John F. Kennedy HS) each came down with three, while freshman forward Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School), sophomore guard Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS) and Robinson added one apiece.
Central was unable to sink anything throughout Michigan's domination, finally hitting a three-point shot with 10:50 left in the half to break the Chippewas scoreless streak and take the score to a 28-5 Wolverine lead. But despite Central's connecting with five more three-pointers during the rest of the half, Michigan maintained a steady lead to end the half 50-32.
Abram accounted for 13 of the Wolverines' points, going 3-3 in three-point attempts. Robinson led the team in first-half scoring, racking up 14 points, including three breakaway layups, and accounting for six of the final seven points scored by Michigan in the half.
Despite the steady dominance of the first half, the Wolverines were unable to establish their pace at the start of the second half. Throughout the first nine minutes of play, Central chipped away at the lead until it finally broke it down to fewer than 10 points (58-49) with 11:55 on the clock.
The Chippewas continued to eat away at the Wolverine lead, putting up an additional seven points. Michigan answered with seven of its own, however, including a triple by Harris to keep the Wolverines ahead by eight (65-57) with 7:54 left in the contest.
After a seesaw battle between the teams to keep the Wolverines ahead by 11 (72-61), the Chippewas began to close the gap. Michigan allowed Central back in the game with three key fouls, one a technical, allowing the Chippewas sink six free throws and drop the Wolverine lead to three (73-70) with 4:32 left on the clock.
Michigan was then able to reestablish dominance thanks to great plays by Robinson. After grabbing an offensive rebound, Robinson was fouled while sinking a jump shot and made the bonus, increasing the Wolverine lead to six (76-70). Abram also connected for two, increasing the lead to eight before the Chippewas responded with five points of their own to take the score to a 78-75 Michigan lead with 2:23 remaining.
Central allowed Michigan to secure the lead, fouling four times in the final two minutes of play. After going 1-2 at the line, Robinson continued to make things happen, coming down with his own rebound to draw another foul and sink two more free throws. A Central intentional foul on sophomore center Brown allowed him to go 2-2 at the line and gave the ball back to U-M to run down the clock for an 85-75 victory.
The Wolverines will only have a single day between games as the Maize and Blue takes on Delaware State Monday (Dec. 22) at Crisler Arena. The matchup between the Wolverines and Hornets is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423