UM Clips Iowa in Tourney Opener

The Michigan Wolverines were a bunch heading into the Big Ten tournament thanks to the opportunity to play with a clean slate. It showed in their intense defensive effort against Iowa in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament. Despite enduring one of their longest offensive droughts of the season, they managed to stay alive for another day by knocking off the Hawkeyes 55-47.

Michigan Coach John Beilein said his team was packing for more than one day at the Big Ten tournament. That turned out to be excellent planning on his part since his squad dispatched of the eighth seeded Iowa Hawkeyes 55-47 Thursday afternoon.

Pacing the Wolverines effort were Manny Harris with 19 points (12 in the first half) and Deshawn Sims, who posted the first double-double of his career with 14 points and ten rebounds.

Harris sparked the Maize & Blue early, scoring eight straight points on a 10-0 run that put Beilein’s bunch up 20-7. The Hawkeyes finally broke out of a four-minute cold spell thanks to a Tony Freeman jumper at the 10:01 mark, but the Wolverines kept applying the pressure. Michigan grabbed its biggest lead of the half when Deshawn Sims drained a three-pointer with 6:46 to go to make the score 25-11. Todd Lickliter’s club was in danger of being blown out, but spirited play in the closing minutes of the half kept things from getting out of hand.

Iowa forward Cyrus Tate set the tone during the final portion of the half, notching five points, two rebounds, a block, a steal, and drawing three fouls to help his club outscore Michigan 14-7 over a six minute span and cut the deficit to seven (32-25). Just when it seemed like the Hawkeyes would head into the break with a little momentum, Zach Gibson’s tip-in just before the halftime buzzer made the score 34-25 at intermission.

Michigan came out of the gates hot in the second half scoring five quick points on an Anthony Wright triple and a jumper from Deshawn Sims. That pushed the lead back to 14 and forced a Lickliter timeout. The time used to regroup had the desired effect offensively, as evidenced by the four quick Hawkeye points in the aftermath. However, it did nothing defensively. Sims came right back with five more points on a tip-in and a triple to give Michigan its biggest lead of the game, 44-29. Then it happened. Both teams went through an unthinkable drought in which not a single field goal was converted for over 11 minutes.

The only points scored during that span came from the charity stripe. The Hawkeyes cut margin back to single digits (46-37) with 4:33 to go thanks to 8-2 advantage from the line (including five by Cyrus Tate). Anthony Wright finally knocked the lid off of the basket for the Wolverines when he nailed a big three-pointer to make the score 49-37 with 4:07 left on the clock.

Iowa’s ineptitude from the perimeter continued for another two-and-a-half minutes. A Jake Kelly jumper with 1:55 remaining finally gave them their first field goal in over 16 minutes, but it was too little too late. The Wolverines protected their lead from the foul line in the waning moments to earn the 55-47 victory.

For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes & Quotes.

Next up for the Maize & Blue is a contest with top-seeded Wisconsin. Tip-off is scheduled for noon EST tomorrow. In Michigan’s only game against the Badgers this year, the young Wolverines lost a hard fought battle 64-61 in Madison.

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