After dropping a highly emotional game to the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, the Michigan basketball team hit the hardwood Thursday evening in a classic trap game. The Miami of Ohio Redhawks came to Ann Arbor with upset on the mind, and early on the Wolverines looked ripe for the picking.
The Redhawks have a reputation for a deliberate ball control offense, but they came out firing away from the outside. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the visitors were on fire. Four different Miami players connected on three point bombs as they combined to go 5/7 beyond the arc in the first eight minutes. Daniel Horton did his best to help the Michigan keep pace, knocking down his first two triples, but the Maize and Blue still trailed 26-16 with 11:55 left on the clock. Miami's outside shooting efficiency finally started to started to come back down to earth after that. Meanwhile, Michigan's inside efficiency began to increase.
Red Hawks coach Charlie Coles tried to mix up the defense in the post by running the occasional double team at the Michigan big men. On this night, though, that tactic would be less effective against the Maize and Blue. Courtney Sims was extremely aggressive in the face of the double-downs, which earned him a number of trips to the free throw line. The Massachusetts native scored eight points in five minutes to chop the deficit to two (33-31) with just over five minutes remaining.
The home team finally regained the lead (37-35) when Horton connected on his third and fourth triples of the night in back to back possessions, but that advantage proved to be short-lived. William Hatcher capped a 5-2 run with a three-pointer right before the buzzer to send his team into the locker room up 40-39.
The Wolverines turned the tables quickly after the break behind contributions from an unexpected source. Sophomore forward Ronald Coleman started his first game of the year in place of Dion Harris, and he made the most of his time. The Romulus native knocked down a triple on his way to six early second half points to put the home team up 49-46 at the 17:05 mark. Miami fought right back to tie the game at 51, but another versatile forward stepped up to spark the home team.
After scoring only two points in the first half, Chris Hunter erupted with an inside-out attack that befuddled the Redhawk defense. The 6-11 senior went 3/3 beyond the arc and score 13 points over five minute span to key a 21-7 run that put Tommy Amaker's squad erupted up 74-59 with 7:15 to go. The Maize and Blue pushed the margin to 18 with 4:20 remaining, and that proved to be all she wrote for the visitors. Miami made a late run to cut the lead to single digits after Amaker made liberal substitutions, but it proved to be too little too late. The Wolverines held on for the 87-80 victory.
After the game Amaker indicated he was pleased with his team's offensive performance, but the defense left something to be desired. "Offense wasn't a concern for us," he said. "Obviously we scored a lot, but we needed every point to win this basketball game because we could not defend these guys this evening. They shot very well. We did everything we could to try and defend them, but nothing worked for us. Offensively, I thought we had a great rhythm. We were confident in stepping into our shots. We scored 48 in the second half, but they scored 40 and they had 40 in the first half as well."
"I thought Chris Hunter was a big difference for us and his play and minutes I thought were significant," Amaker continued. "We had trouble guarding at time so I thought Chris allowed us to play in a different man-up on the defensive end. I thought our zone helped us a little bit in slowing them down from driving and attacking with the ball. That certainly helped us and then we got to the foul line. Getting to the line 31 times certainly helped us this evening."
Daniel Horton led five Wolverines in double figures with 17 points and three assists. Courtney Sims and Chris Hunter chimed in with 16 and 15 respectively. Miami freshman and Grosse Pointe native Michael Bramos paced the Redhawks with 18 points in the first start of his career. For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes, Photos.
The 8-1 Wolverines now have a brief break and won't return to the hardwood until after the Christmas holiday when they face Coppin State Wednesday December 28th at Crisler Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6pm.