Wolverines Stop Tigers in 1st Round of NIT

<p>An under-manned Wolverine team earned a hard fought win over the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday. <strong>Daniel Horton</strong> came through with a great game to help his team hold on to the <strong>65-64 victory</strong>.</p> <p><strong>***Photo Gallery Included***</strong></p>

Be sure to check out our photo gallery from the game, here.

The Wolverines entered last night’s contest versus the Missouri Tigers without leading scorer Lester Abram. Recognized as Michigan’s most consistent offensive threat, a lineup without him called for someone else to step up. For Daniel Horton, after a season that has had its share of disappointments, it was fitting that the player in question be he. Early in the game, however, the hero for the home team was freshman Dion Harris. After Missouri took the lead on an Arthur Johnson free throw, Harris answered with a huge 3 to make the score 17-15 with 8:03 remaining in the half. Johnson would tie it again on a short hook, but the Wolverines came right back with an 8-0 run to put them up 25-17 with 5:35 to go in the half.

Johnson proved throughout to be the Tigers’ most consistent option and the Detroit Pershing alum stopped the bleeding with another hook shot. His teammates chipped in by following that up with two consecutive three pointers, resulting in the visitors being down by only one. But as was the case earlier in the game, Dion Harris had an answer for their run. The freshman stepped forth with his second three-pointer of the half to fend them off. Daniel Horton helped his backcourt mate out by following that up with a 3 of his own to give the Wolverines a 32-26 lead at intermission.

Dion Harris for 3!

Arthur Johnson came out of the locker room and got right back to work with a quick basket, but a jumper from Harris and a three-pointer form Horton pushed the lead back out to 9. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they weren’t able to sustain that offensive success. The Michigan players went cold over the next eight minutes, going 1/11 during that stretch. On the other side, the Tigers warmed up in a hurry. Detroit Renaissance alum Ricky Paulding nailed a 3-pointer to key a big 20-3 run that gave his squad a 48-40 lead with 9:50 left in the game.

Bernard Robinson Jr. with the J

After freshman Brent Petway ended the drought with a dunk, Bernard Robinson Jr. shot Michigan right back in it, netting six of his team’s next nine points to cut the deficit back to 1. Still, the Tigers were able to answer. No matter how many players Wolverines ran at Arthur Johnson, he continued to have his way. The 6-9 big-man was fouled and knocked down two free throws to regain the lead. Daniel Horton went down on the other end and missed a jumper, but freshman Courtney Sims came through with a huge tip in to keep pace with the visitors. On the next offensive possession Robinson capitalized on the opportunity to take the lead by knocking in two from the free throw line.

Chris and Courtney converge on Arthur Johnson

Missouri tied it again on a Travon Bryant free throw, but Horton looking like the player that won freshman of the year last season, scored on two huge drives to the basket to put Michigan up by 4. Nevertheless, every time the Wolverines tried to put the Tigers away, Arthur Johnson was right there to keep them in it. He notched 4 straight points to bring the game back even. Michigan tried to regain the advantage by going inside, but Graham Brown missed two crucial free throws after being fouled that would have given the home team the lead. Fortunately for Amaker’s bunch, Chris Hunter bailed them out by grabbing the rebound and laying in back in to put the Wolverines up 61-59. Robinson padded the lead with two free throws, but Ricky Paulding nailed a HUGE 3-pointer make the score 63-62 and put the Tigers within striking distance with 50 seconds left in the game. That’s when Horton stepped forth with the type of play that fans became so accustomed to seeing last year.

Courtney Sims with the stuff!

With cramps starting to set in Horton drove to the hole with a left to right dribble and threw up a floating lay-up that found the bottom of the net to ice the game for the Maize and Blue, as they went on to the 65-64 victory. Horton was modest about his late game heroics after the game. “I was trying to penetrate,” said Horton. “When I got the ball, I drove, and they didn't come and help in time and I was able to get the floater off in the lane. It was a great play by Courtney (Sims) to swing the ball around and give me a chance to make the play.” Coach Amaker, however, gave his sophomore floor leader the credit he deserved. “"Down the stretch Horton was the Daniel of old,” Amaker said. “He made some very big baskets for us and took control of the game when we needed him too.”

Daniel Horton takes it up strong

After the game Coach Amaker credited the crowd with giving his team a huge lift. “That was a very exciting game,” Amaker said. “I was really impressed with our fans and our students, especially. They made this an atmosphere that helped us win. Missouri is a great team and fought hard to get back in the game late. We missed some free throws late but were able to make up for it with big rebounds from Chris Hunter. I am very excited to get a postseason win for this team”

On the game Horton led Michigan with 20 points and 3 assists, while Robinson Jr. had 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Arthur Johnson led Missouri with 26 points and 10 rebounds respectively. For the full boxscore, click here.

Michigan’s next opponent will be the winner of the Oklahoma versus LSU match up tonight. The time and place for that game has yet to be determined.

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