ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team earned its second straight victory over UCLA, defeating the Bruins 70-66 Saturday (Dec. 27) in front of 12,937 at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (8-1) built an eight-point halftime lead before the Bruins (4-3) battled back to within three points in the final minute of the game.
Sims had three blocked shots to go along with 12 points.
Sophomore Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS)
led Michigan with 19 points, including three triples, while senior Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.)
contributed 17 points and four assists. Sophomore Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS)
came up big for the Wolverines in the second half, scoring eight of his 10 points in the final 20 minutes, and pulled down a team-high seven boards. Freshman Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School)
rounded out the double-digit scorers for U-M with 12 points and five rebounds. UCLA's Dijon Thompson led all scorers with 21 points, and Trevor Ariza posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The Wolverines stormed out to an early 8-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Robinson began the scoring with a wide-open dunk off a pass from sophomore Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS), and Horton followed with a tough righthanded layup off the glass. Following a steal, Robinson came down and hit a tricky runner from the left side to put U-M in front 6-0. Robinson capped off the run with another lefthanded layin to increase the lead to eight points and force a UCLA timeout at 17:52.
The Bruins quickly erased the deficit with a 12-0 run, as Michigan went without a field goal for more than five minutes. Ariza used three fastbreak dunks during the run to swing the momentum back into UCLA's favor and put the Bruins up by four points with 14:17 remaining in the half. Brown broke the drought with a putback on his own miss, and freshman Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) put U-M back on top 14-12 with his first basket of the game.
Neither team was able to gain a significant advantage over the next few minutes. Michigan received two points from the line from both Horton and Robinson, and freshman Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) brought the crowd to its feet with an alley-oop slam from Horton on the break. With the Wolverines trailing 23-20, Harris knotted the score with his second trey with 6:43 left until halftime.
The Maize and Blue held UCLA to just five points in the remaining minutes of the half. Following a pair of free throws from Robinson, Sims got on the scoreboard with a reverse layup to give U-M a 27-25 advantage. On Michigan's next possession, Sims knocked down a turnaround layup while being fouled, and the free throw put the Wolverines ahead by four points. Horton allowed Michigan to carry the momentum into the locker room, hitting two straight triples to close out the half and give U-M a 36-28 edge.
Robinson and Horton each netted 10 points to lead U-M in the first frame, while Ariza paced UCLA with 10 points and five rebounds.
Horton began the second half just as he closed out the first, with another bucket from behind the arc. The Bruins responded with a 9-3 run to climb within five points of the lead, but Robinson hit his first triple and Sims put home two more to keep Michigan ahead 47-37 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Bruins answered with a 9-2 surge to cut the lead to three points, but Michigan met the challenge once again with two layups down low from Brown and another basket from Robinson to stay in front 55-48 with 8:22 to play.
Harris increased the cushion to nine points with his second triple of the game and Horton followed with four straight points. A bucket from Sims matched Michigan's largest lead of the game at 11 points, 63-52, but UCLA came back within three with 2:41 left thanks to an 8-0 run. Brown continued his stellar play with a tip-in basket off a Sims miss to get Michigan back on track. On the next trip down the floor, Brown hit another bucket in the post to put U-M up 67-60 with under two minutes remaining.
Thompson hit two triples in the final minutes to bring the Bruins within three points, 69-66, but UCLA was forced to foul and Harris hit one of two from the line to clinch the victory for Michigan.
The Wolverines will close out their five-game homestand against Boston University Saturday (Dec. 30) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423