Michigan Wins 86-69; Improves to 10-1

On Saturday, the Michigan basketball team concluded its non-conference portion of the 2005-06 schedule with a home contest against the Chicago State Cougars. In the Wolverines final tune up before opening Big 10 play, U-M used a steady diet of scoring, including four players in double digits, to coast past the Cougars 86-69 at Crisler Arena.

In this one, it was all Michigan from the initial jump of the ball. Right from the start, the Wolverines jumped out to an early lead behind the hot shooting of Dion Harris and the dribble drive of Lester Abram. U-M continued the inside-out attack for much of the first 10 minutes on their way to an early 12 point lead.

Then, as Chicago State attempted to adjust to the hot Wolverine shooters, Michigan center Courtney Sims took over on the inside. The Massachusetts native filled up the stat sheet in the opening stanza, notching 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. By the end of the half, the Wolverines lead had swollen to 20 points behind the efforts of Harris, Sims and Abram. All three players contributed 10 or more points in the half.

After the intermission, the Wolverines picked up right where they left off and continued their offensive explosion. An 11-0 run, including seven from senior Daniel Horton, extended the Maize and Blue's lead to 31 points with only five minutes run off the clock. Chicago State would try and battle back, but for every shot the Cougars hit, the Wolverines had an answer.

Chicago State's guard tandem of David Holston and Royce Parran connected on six triples in the second half to trim the lead back to 15 points, but that was as close as they could get as the Wolverines pushed the margin back to 20 points as the clock wound down.

Courtney Sims wound up falling two blocks short of the triple double in a dominating performance that saw the center contribute 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 blocks. Daniel Horton finished with 17 points and 10 assists in his second double-double of the season.

"It was a good game. It was a tough game; a lot tougher than the score indicated," said Horton following the game. "In the first half we did a lot of good things to build that lead. We knew it wasn't going to be that way the whole game because they had some really good, quick guards and you can only keep those guys down for so long. We knew they were going to make a run and we just had to withstand it and keep playing."

The one concern: the health of the team. Dion Harris slightly pulled a hamstring during the game, and Chris Hunter and Graham Brown both played sparingly -- Hunter due to illness and Brown due to a sore knee. Head Coach Tommy Amaker said regarding Graham: "Graham's a pretty tough kid, so when he says he's not feeling great or is hurt, I have a great deal of concern because usually he can fight through anything."

Michigan opens Big Ten play in Bloomington, Indiana on Tuesday January 3 against the Hoosiers.

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