Wolverines Bounced By Gophers 59-55

Dion Harris netted a game high 16 points for the Michigan Wolverines as they were bounced from the Big 10 tournament by the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Maurice Hargrow chipped in 15 points for the Gophers while Zach Puchtel hauled in 15 rebounds to pace Minnesota.

It looked in the opening minutes as if the Wolverines would have no trouble brushing the Golden Gophers aside for the third time of the season. After controlling the jump to start the game, Graham Brown put Michigan on top with a lay-up from underneath the Minnesota basket and Dion Harris followed by converting on his first triple. As a result, Gophers coach Dan Monson called a timeout to discuss his clubs problems on the offensive end of the floor.

"I didn't think we played particularly well offensively, but this was one of our better defensive efforts of the year," said Monson after the game.

It was a whole different game after the timeout. Michigan would push the lead two more points, but then Minnesota began chipping away. As the first half wore on, the two clubs battled back and forth as the Wolverines held the lead by four points at the intermission. But Minnesota wasn't done yet.

"At halftime when Michigan had 27 points, I told our guys if we held them to another 27 we were going to score 54. We barely made it, especially with our free throw shooting, but we made it."

In the second half, the two teams continued to exchange blows. Minnesota struck first to claw within two points on a jumper from Spencer Tollackson, but Daniel Horton answered right back for the Maize and Blue.

But, after Courtney Sims hit a jumper from in the lane to put Michigan on top 31-27, Minnesota clamped down defensively. Causing turnover after turnover, the Gophers strung together an 8-0 run to jump into the lead for the first and only time with 14:42 left on the clock.

"I thought that their aggressiveness on the ball knocked us back a little bit," said U-M coach Tommy Amaker following the loss. "To be very honest, we haven't been good when people put pressure on us. We know that, and we try to do things against it and safeguard for it, but it wasn't enough today."

Minnesota poked the ball away from the Wolverines 21 times on the night with the starting backcourt of Daniel Horton and Dion Harris responsible for 10 Wolverine giveaways.

"We weren't playing strong enough and they made some savvy plays," he said. "We needed to be tougher and take more pride in having the ball."

As a result of the turnovers the Golden Gophers bolted out to a double digit lead with just four minutes to play. U-M battled back, but costly turnovers at inopportune times cost the Wolverines down the stretch.

Minnesota would provide the Wolverines with numerous opportunities to draw even over the final minutes of play, but U-M could not convert on open three-point shots as the Golden Gophers iced it away at the line.

With the loss the Wolverines fall to 18-10 on the year and remain entrenched in the NCAA bubble as Selection Sunday looms just three days away.

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