The hits just keep on coming for Tommy Amaker's basketball club. In what has become somewhat of a cruel joke, the Wolverines lost another player to injury prior to today's contest with South Florida when Doni Wohl went down in practice earlier this week.
What was the formula for victory with yet an even shorter bench?
1. Slow the tempo: Michigan was able to slow the game down without turning
the ball over -- committing just 11 turnovers for the game.
2. Stay out of foul trouble: Michigan committed just 11 fouls, with no individual player getting 4 fouls.
3. Convert at the free throw line. Despite missing 5 of 6 late in the game, Michigan 23 for 29, 79.3%.
Those factors were very key in putting away a team that has its own share of player shortages. South Florida has only 7 players on scholarship for first-year coach Robert McCullum (formerly coach of Western Michigan, where he won 2 of 3 games over U-M). Despite that, the Bulls were up to the challenge.
Like last game, the Wolverines went inside early with their first two points coming on a dunk from Chris Hunter, and six of their first eight from down in the paint. South Florida countered by doing the same behind the offense of forward Terrence Leather. The wiry post-man gave the Michigan defenders fits, scoring 16 points in the initial half of play.
The game was nip and tuck for most of the period until the Bulls threatened to pull about away midway through. South Florida pushed the lead to five with just over seven minutes to go, but Harris nailed a three pointer to make the score 26-24, stemming the possible run. He added another basket and Sherrod Harrell chipped in with four on a 13-6 run that sent the home team into the intermission up by a deuce, 34-32.
Coming out of the locker room, the two teams continued to go toe to toe with neither faltering. Michigan got its points on the inside with Hunter and from the outside with Harris. They netted four and five, respectively, in the opening minutes of the half. South Florida on the other hand, got its offence from just one place. Terrence Leather. The Maize and Blue quite simply had no answer for him. He nailed seven of their first eleven second-half points and helped knot the score at 43 with 16:28 remaining. Fortunately for the Wolverines, there was one thing that slowed him down. Foul trouble.
Leather went out with 15:25 remaining in the game, and Tommy Amaker's bunch took advantage
Ronald Coleman scored four quick points, and Brent Petway six, on a 12-3 run that put the Wolverines up 55-46 with 11 minutes to go. Leather returned to the lineup and scored five more points to help trim the lead back down to four with seven minutes to go, but they would get no closer
Chris Hunter sunk two free throws to end the mini-run, and the Wolverines outscored the visitors nine to one over the next five minutes to take a 12 (66-54) point lead. Leather fouled out with 2:06 remaining and the Wolverines coasted the rest of the way to the 71-62 victory.
Dion Harris led the Wolverines with 22 points, Chris Hunter added 16 (including 10 of 10 free throws) and Ronald Coleman and Brent Petway had 10 apiece. UCF's senior forward Terrance Leather led all scorers with 28 points despite playing much of the 2nd half with 4 fouls and also bruising his knee at the 4:40 mark. For more on the game, including the full boxscore, click here (Boxscore, Notes, Quotes).
Michigan laces up the sneakers again Tuesday night at Crisler Arena against Boston University.