Tonight's game was the first meeting of the season between Michigan and Minnesota. The Wolverines face the Gophers twice in their final five games. U-M will close its 2008-09 regular season with a trip to Minneapolis, Minn., on either March 7 or 8. The game is a CBS wildcard game and a date has yet to be determined.
With the victory, Michigan has won back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game winning streak in the beginning of January. The Wolverines won three straight conference games against Illinois on Jan. 4, at Indiana on Jan. 7 and Iowa on Jan. 11.
Michigan is now 79-64 all-time against Minnesota with a 50-19 record at Crisler Arena. Tonight's victory snapped a two-game losing streak against the Gophers.
Michigan closed the game with 21 assists on 27 field goals. The 21 assists mark the fifth time this season the Wolverines have had 20-plus assists in a game. U-M is averaging 15.5 assists per game.
Michigan posted 27 field goals with 13 coming from beyond the arc. That total marked the ninth time this season the Wolverines have had 10 or more triples in a game. The Wolverines continue to lead the Big Ten with 8.55 long-range buckets per game.
With 10 steals, Michigan recorded its third game this season posting double figures for swipes. In all, seven different Wolverines recorded a steal against the Gophers.
Michigan finished the game with four players scoring in double figures -- Zack Novak (18), DeShawn Sims (12), Stu Douglass (12) and Kelvin Grady (12).
For the second time in his career, Zack Novak led U-M in scoring with his 18 points. It marked the sixth game scoring in double figures in his first season. En route the team-best scoring, he drained a career-best six three-pointers, finishing 6-of-10 from long range. The total marks the third-best for a U-M freshman in a single game.
DeShawn Sims' 12 points give him his 23rd game this season scoring in double figures. He now has exactly 900 career points.
Kelvin Grady came off the bench to score 12 points, going a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 3-of-3 from long range. It is his fifth game this season scoring in double figures.
After being held with no points in his last game, Stu Douglass rallied with 12 points today, including two long-range buckets. It is the sixth time this season he has scored in double digits.
For the fourth time this season, C.J. Lee equaled his career best with four assists. Overall, it is the sixth time in his career he has reached the feat. Additionally, for the fourth straight game, he played 30-plus minutes.
Manny Harris has now started all 59 games in his Michigan career. He is the only Wolverine on the roster that has started and played in every game of his career.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On the total team effort... "When you consider that Manny (Harris) was in foul trouble, our kids were really spectacular delivering in that situation. Zack Novak was shooting the ball like he was earlier (this season). Hopefully, we'll be good enough one day to shoot poorly and still beat good teams with some other stuff -- scoring inside or doing different things with the in-between game -- but right now if we can create our own shots through our offense and through our defense I think we can play with a lot of people."
On Stu Douglass and Zack Novak's success shooting from the outside... "With all of our guys that we have out there, whether its Laval (Lucas-Perry), Kelvin (Grady), David (Merritt) or C.J. (Lee), all of them are pretty good shooters. We just try to matchup what is the best against that particular team. When you have two guys that can stretch it like that, that is pretty good."
On the play of Kelvin Grady off the bench... "Kelvin did a great job. With the way that they were going to press us, he is the best we have when people are really on you full-court. He can just go by people, especially with the lead they were going to come after us and he delivered. Manny's (Harris) foul trouble made us go to the next guy on the bench. That is why we tell the guys on the bench that they have to be ready; you just don't know. Kelvin was sure ready tonight."
On tonight being a sign of progress for the future... "I liked the noise in here tonight. We had a Thursday seven o'clock game. I think we had 10,000-plus here tonight. The students are ready to go on (spring) break. That is the way we envision our teams to play and score 70-plus points. That is the way we want to play. We don't want to be in 54-42 games. But we have to be able to win both ways."
On getting to .500 in conference play... "We have four games left and I told the guys that we are trying to climb a mountain and we are getting closer to the top of the mountain, but we have four games left, and three of them are away. None of these teams lose a lot at home (Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota) and we have a nationally-ranked team coming here (Purdue). So it is important to get to this point and now we move to the next game, Iowa."
U-M Sophomore Guard Kelvin Grady
On the team's performance... "These guys came out to play. They had an excellent start getting up 15 to 20 points. I had the opportunity to get in, and I just want to help where I can help. The guys that are out there are guys who deserve to be out there, and they work hard. I just can't say enough about these guys. They continue to work hard every day in practice, and they know where they want to go and are working to get there. I just came in and tried to contribute where I can. If it is one minute or 20 minutes, I am going to play my hardest and give everything I can."
On working as a team... "We definitely are working together. Manny (Harris) has a lot of class. He comes in as a guy who has led us through, and not even getting double figures, he has a smile on his face. It shows the type of player Manny Harris is. Most leading scorers, it is hard for them when they don't score and they mope. Manny Harris shows that he cares about this team and that he is all about this team. The rest of the guys who were in double figures, they work hard. Those are the guys that work hard in practice. Not taking away from anyone else, but the guys that work hard in practice show on the court."
On his contribution tonight... "Anytime I can get into the game and help this team out and move towards the NCAA Tournament there is not a better feeling. If I play one minute or 20 minutes, I am going to get out there and play when I can."
U-M Freshman Guard Zack Novak
On role players stepping up in today's game... "Kelvin (Grady) off the bench hitting those big threes. Stu (Douglass) coming off and hitting a big shot; but it was just everybody tonight. Team effort and team win. Like I said, when you have a setback like Manny (Harris) just going for eight points, your defense can carry you."
On the team hitting shots... "When we are hitting we are tough to beat. Like I said, you are not going to be shooting (well) every night, so that is why we have been working on our defense. Even if we are not shooting now, we have got a chance to win."
On the rest of the season... "It is just game-to-game every game. You can't overlook anybody looking to the next opponent. It is just one step of the ladder every way. That is what we are saying right now and we have got to get that next step."
On building chemistry with guard Stu Douglass... "I think we have developed a little bit. Both coming from Indiana, it is a brand of basketball there, so we have kind of played the same way our whole lives I'd say. We have been playing with each other for almost eight months now, so the chemistry is getting there and it is only going to get better."
U-M Freshman Guard Stu Douglass
On guard Manny Harris playing fewer minutes due to foul trouble... "We really had to step up. Manny (Harris) is very valuable to this team. Every player is valuable, but if one player goes down, the other ones have to step up and perform. That is exactly what we did, all five of us."
On working with guard Zack Novak... "Usually when we have been playing at the same time, one has been shooting well and the other one hasn't. This game, we kind of built off of each other's confidence. Zack started shooting well and that gave me the confidence to just let it fly and be a little bit more comfortable. I think we built off of each other like that. It is nice because it hasn't happened a lot this year."