LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team dropped a 92-55 decision, Saturday (Dec. 23), to the No. 1-ranked UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion. In what was the Wolverines' (11-2) third road contest of the season and first against a ranked opponent, U-M had a difficult time against the Bruins, who played true to their top-ranked status.
The Wolverines' biggest problem of the afternoon was turnovers, compiling a season-high 23 compared to only nine assists. Many of those turnovers were a result of solid defensive pressure from the Bruins on Wolverine guards, leaving Michigan struggling to get the ball inside. That -- coupled with UCLA's 59 percent (33-for-56) shooting from the floor and 55 percent (11-for-20) shooting from three-point range -- ultimately led to Michigan's second loss of the season and first against a ranked opponent.
Senior Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) led the Wolverines with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with five blocks and two rebounds. Senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) was U-M's other double-digit scorer, finishing the game with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with four rebounds and one assist.
And while it may not be obvious on a stat sheet, Michigan saw numerous young players step up and show a spark against the Bruins, particularly freshmen Ekpe Udoh (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe HS) and DeShawn Sims (Detroit, Mich./Pershing HS). Udoh finished the game with seven points, three rebounds and one block while Sims finished with five points, one assist and one steal.
Michigan never found a rhythm against the Bruins, who applied relentless defensive pressure up top that left the Wolverines on their heels. After falling into an early 8-0 hole in under two minutes, U-M struggled to regain control, but managed to stay within striking distance as the half wore on.
As UCLA continued to hit perimeter shots to put distance between the two teams, Wolverine turnovers left them with few shot opportunities. Still, U-M scored enough times to keep things from getting out of control with big plays by Abram and DeShawn Sims down the stretch.
DeShawn Sims scored five of Michigan's seven points in the final three minutes of the first half; the one basket he didn't score was off a second-chance opportunity he created. But the Wolverines were in a significant hole as they headed to the locker room at the half, trailing 36-23 to the Bruins.
The second frame was trouble from the start as UCLA came out firing hard. Down just 13 points at the outset of the half, Michigan fell victim to an aggressive Bruin attack as they rattled off a 12-5 run to go up by 20 (48-28) with 16:33 remaining.
The Wolverines then found a rhythm inside with Courtney Sims as he hit three straight in under two minutes, but UCLA responded to every Michigan score and even extended the lead by making two of their baskets from beyond the arc.
Now trailing 56-34, the Wolverines saw the game slip from their fingertips as UCLA went on an 11-2 scoring drive in just over two minutes to make the score 67-36 with 11:12 left to play.
Abram and sophomore Jerret Smith (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) attempted a surge by posting seven points in just under two minutes, but UCLA wasn't backing down and continued to make their shots and apply solid pressure to the Wolverine offense, resulting in the 92-55 loss.
The Wolverines return to the court following the holiday season with their final pair of non-conference games. First, Michigan will take on Army on Thursday (Dec. 28) at 8 p.m. at Crisler Arena. The game against the Black Knights will be part of the ESPN-Plus package. The Maize and Blue will then close out 2006 with a match-up against Georgetown on Saturday (Dec. 30) at noon at Crisler Arena. The game against the Hoyas will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423