Michigan Hoops Breaks Through Against NW

The Michigan basketball team broke through with a Big 10 win on Saturday afternoon in Evanston, Ill., with a 78-68 win over the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena to snap the Wolverines five-game losing streak. Manny Harris again led the Michigan scorers with 22 points and 8 assists. Michigan is now 1-3 in Big 10 play.

Evanston, Ill. -- The Michigan basketball team came away with a conference win for the first time of the season with a 78-68 win over the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan was led by freshman guard Manny Harris who finished with 22 points and 8 assists to lead the Maize and Blue in both statistical categories. Ekpe Udoh added 14 points and 11 rebounds to help the Maize and Blue hold off a late charge from the Wildcats, a team still seeking its first Big 10 win.

"Our kids are so happy. The coaches are, because we've had a rough go, certainly for at least the last month," said Michigan coach John Beilein, "and it was a month ago that we ended up beating Oakland. Hopefully it will increase how positive we are overall."

Jumping out to a 9-2 lead nearly four minutes into the game, the Wolverines never trailed. After Kevin Coble, who finished with a game-high 34 points for the Wildcats, scored his first bucket of the game to tie the score 2-2, a pair of jumpers from Jevohn Shepherd, a layup from Udoh, and a three-ball from Harris gave Michigan as big a lead as it would need.

Northwestern drew within a point at 9-8, but a layup from DeShawn Sims, who finished with 12 points, snapped the Wolverines scoring drought. The teams then exchanged baskets until the Wolverines built a 21-17 lead, and, over the final five minutes of the half, the Wolverines built an insurmountable lead.

A 12-0 run, including five from Harris, four from Sims, and a triple from David Merritt forced a Wildcats timeout at 33-17 Michigan. The timeout didn't stop the Wolverines, however, as Michigan continued to outscore Northwestern 10-5 over the final 3 minutes to go into the break with a 43-22 lead.

The lead ballooned to 30 points with a Shepherd free throw with 13:52 left on the clock, but the Wildcats would fight back over the last half of the second frame.

Coble trimmed the lead to 10 points with just over a minute to go, but that was as close as Northwestern would get.

"There wasn't that much time left, but we still played to compete to stay in there and the momentum as a whole was still going on," Sims said on the lead shrinking to 10, "and I didn't think it was going to shift after that."

Michigan scored its final seven points of the game from the free throw line.

The Wolverines next contest is scheduled for Wednesday night against the Illinois Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill.

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