Big Men Lead Charge as Michigan Tops Delaware State

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team broke a two-game losing streak by defeating Delaware State 66-48 Wednesday night (Dec. 29) in front of 11,338 fans at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (7-5), who led by nine points at halftime, used an 11-0 scoring run in the latter stages of the second half to put the game out of reach for the Hornets (3-9). U-M shot 58 percent from the field (25-of-43), while Delaware State finished at 33 percent (17-of-52).

Sophomore Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) led all scorers with a season-high 19 points, including 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Junior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) had a strong overall performance, finishing with 15 points to go a long with game highs of nine rebounds and six assists. Freshman Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, including three triples. Aaron Williams and Jahsha Bluntt paced Delaware State with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Michigan got off to a slow start on the offensive end, scoring just six points in the first five minutes of action. However, the Wolverines were able to keep a two-point lead, 6-4, after Delaware State could only convert on one of its first four shots from the field. Coleman found his rhythm with back-to-back triples to put U-M ahead 12-4, but Bluntt answered with two triples of his own to cut the deficit to 12-10 with 12:22 left in the first half.

Both teams continued to find the bottom of the net from long range, as junior Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS) and Aaron Fleetwood exchanged three-pointers over the next possessions. The Hornets scored just three more points over the next six minutes, as Michigan jumped out to a 27-16 advantage. Hunter was the main catalyst during the 12-3 run, scoring six of his eight first-half points to give the Wolverines the 11-point lead with 5:31 to go until halftime.

U-M was able to extend the lead to 13 points, 32-19, as Sims earned a tip-in basket and Coleman drilled his third triple of the first half. Bluntt stopped the bleeding for Delaware State with two straight three-pointers from the top of the key to trim the Michigan lead down to seven points with 1:48 left until the break. Hunter's long jumper capped off the first-half scoring and gave the Wolverines a 34-25 cushion heading into the locker room.

Coleman finished the first half with 11 points, including 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc, while Hunter connected on all four of his shots in the first 20 minutes. Bluntt and Fleetwood combined for all but three of the Hornet's points in the first frame, including 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

Michigan kept a double-digit lead in the early stages of the second half, with Harris and sophomore John Andrews (West Bloomfield, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's) collecting two points apiece in the first minute of play. Andrew's bucket would be U-M's last field goal for over three minutes, as Delaware State crept back to within nine points, 40-31, with 16:42 remaining in the game.

Coleman broke the drought with a basket to push the lead back into double digits, but the Wolverines were held scoreless for another three-minute span. Terrence Hunter gave the Hornets energy on the offensive end, recording two straight dunks to bring Delaware State to within seven points, 42-35, with 13:49 left on the clock.

U-M's strong effort on the offensive glass kept the lead at eight points, as Hunter and Sims put back a pair of misses to provide the Wolverines with a 46-38 edge. Sims continued to go to work down low, stuffing home two points before laying in two more while being fouled on the next possession. The ensuing free throw put Michigan on top 51-41 with 9:33 left.

Michigan's big men continued to give the Wolverines firepower on offense, with Hunter connecting on his first triple of the game before Sims scored two more in the paint. A Sims free throw at 6:21 capped off an 11-0 scoring run and put the Wolverines ahead 57-41.

The lead would never drop below 10 points the rest of the way, as U-M continued to find open looks in the post and convert on its free throw opportunities. A putback jam by sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) with two minutes left put the finishing touches on the 18-point victory.

The Wolverines will look to close out 2004 in winning form when they host UNC-Asheville Friday afternoon (Dec. 31). Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Crisler Arena.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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