Daniel Horton nailed a three to open scoring but things went down hill offensively for the home after that. The two squads were knotted at five points apiece at the first media time out, but coming out of that break the Bearcats outscored the maize and blue 22-10 over the next ten minutes. They sagged in defensively and really took away Michigan's post game. That forced the perimeter players to put up a lot of jumpers, most of which did not find their mark.
On the other side, the visitors compensated for the early foul trouble of 7-foot center Nick Billings by connecting from deep and getting big bench contributions. Binghamton went 5/11 from 3-point range, two coming off of the hands of of guard Troy Hailey. Backup center Joe White filled in admirably for Billings with eight first half points and reserve guard Andre Heard chipped in with seven.
Despite six first half turnovers, Horton stepped forth and sparked a late comeback. The junior floor general had a hand in six points (two coming on his on own shot, while he dishing off on two other baskets) in an 11-3 run to end the half. His efforts helped cut what was a 12 point deficit to four (30-26) at intermission. "That is uncharacteristic thus far for him this year," Amaker said of Horton's turnovers. "I thought Daniel was the reason we had any spirit and life in the first half. I looked past those turnovers because of how hard he was competing and the fire that he had in the timeouts and in the huddles with our players. I thought he was the catalyst for us not to keep our heads down. I thought we had our heads down early when things weren't going our way."
Because Michigan's offense wasn't at its best, that made it extremely important for the defense to step up. Thankfiully for Wolverine fans, it did in a HUGE way! Billings, who sat down with three fouls in the first half, again sat very quickly coming out of the locker room when he picked up his fourth less than a minute into the second half of play. He eventually fouled out with a little less than seven minutes to play after logging only seven minutes of court time on the night.
Michigan came out and scored the first four points of the half courtesy of free throws from Abram and Harris. The two squads exchanged buckets and were again tied with 13:36 left in the game. That's when Horton made the play of the night. Michigan's point guard found Brent Petway back door for a huge alley-oop slam that gave Michigan's it's first lead (41-39) since they were up 3-0 in the first minute. The play caused Binghamton head man Al Walker to call timeout. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, Michigan would not look back.
From there the defense picked up and a big Wolverine run ensued. With Daniel Horton saddled with foul trouble, Dion Harris took over the point guard duties and also picked up the scoring slack. The Detroit native got off to a poor start offensively, but netted 10 points in a big 15-4 run that put Michigan up 56-43 with 3:30 to go. Amaker encouraged Harris and his other players to shoot through their early season woes. "When they’re (the opponents) doubling down or when they're really sagging off like that… at some point we're going to have to hit some outside shots," Amaker said. "I don't know what else to say about it. I don't think we've ever seen some of our really good shooters have the kind of stretches that we've seen. I'm sure they'll find their way out of it and the only way out of it is to keep shooting. That's what we want them to do."
While Michigan's outside shooting improved in the second half, Binghamton's regressed drastically. The Bearcats attempted to find their mark from three, but an 0/11 second half clip from behind the arc prevented them from mounting a serious threat. They were only able to mount 14 second half points, while Amaker's club put up 31 on their way to the 59-46 victory. They now advance to the next round of the Preseason NIT to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs defeated the College of Charleston 72-57 in their first round match up. Game time is 7pm Wednesday night at Crisler Arena.
To view the NIT bracket, click here.