ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team closed out 2004 with a 75-54 victory over UNC-Asheville Friday afternoon (Dec. 31) in front of 10,786 fans at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (8-5) used a 15-0 run to go ahead by double digits at halftime before storming out to a game-high lead of 65-39 behind a 14-1 run in the second frame. The U-M defense held the Bulldogs (3-8) to just 35 percent shooting (10-of-29) in the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Michigan finished the game with four players scoring in double figures, led by junior Chris Hunter's (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) game-high 20-point performance. Freshman Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) recorded a career-high 17 points, while sophomore Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) chipped in 11 points to go along with a game-high six rebounds. Sophomore Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) posted a career-best eight assists in addition to his 10 points.
It was a tightly contested game early on, as Michigan sustained a 17-15 lead after the first 12 minutes of action. Coleman caught fire early on, connecting on five of his first eight shots to account for 10 of U-M's first 15 points.
With the Wolverines holding a 19-17 advantage, Hunter converted on a three-point play down low to put U-M up by 15 points at 6:09. The play jump-started a 15-0 Michigan run over the next five minutes. Hunter collected eight more points during the run, including his first triple and another three-point play inside, allowing the Wolverines to storm out to a 34-17 lead with 2:24 to play in the half.
A three-pointer by K.J. Garland at 1:54 ended a five-minute scoring drought for the Bulldogs and cut the U-M lead down to 14 points. Harris answered with a short jumper, but Omar Collington drilled another bucket from long range to trim the deficit to 36-23. In the final seconds of the half, sophomore John Andrews (West Bloomfield, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's) took an inbounds pass and dropped in a layup with 1.2 seconds on the clock to give Michigan a 38-23 lead heading into the locker room.
Hunter and Coleman finished the half with 11 and 10 points, respectively, and the Wolverines shot 59 percent from the field (16-of-27) in the first 20 minutes.
Chad Mohn scored four points in the first two minutes of the second half to keep UNC-Asheville within 12 points, 40-28. Meanwhile, Hunter made sure that the lead stayed above double figures by scoring Michigan's first seven points in the second frame. Coleman's first three-pointer at 14:26 pushed the score up to 48-33.
Leading 51-38, Harris brought the ball up the floor and fed sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) for an alley-oop jam, which started a 14-1 U-M run over the next five minutes. Sims continued to capitalize with a pair of hoops in the paint, while Coleman converted on back-to-back layups in transition to increase the advantage to 65-39 with 7:44 to go in the game.
Michigan would never back down despite holding the comfortable lead, with Andrews connecting on a tricky layup while being fouled, and Hunter stuffing home two points on the fast break soon after. A layup by fifth-year senior J.C. Mathis (Brooklyn, N.Y./John F. Kennedy HS) with under two minutes left put the score at 73-52, and junior/sophomore Amadou Ba (Mauritania/Bridgton Academy, Maine) capped off the scoring with his first career basket to seal the 21-point victory.
The Wolverines open their Big Ten Conference schedule on the road when they face Iowa on Wednesday (Jan. 5). Tipoff is at 9 p.m. CST at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, and the game will be televised by ESPN-Local.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423