Wolverines Tops (In) State

Ain't winning ugly beautiful? Especially versus the Spartans! The Michigan baskeball team overcame a zero-for-five shooting day by Lavell Blanchard to regain the 'State Basketball Chamionship' over Michigan State Sunday afternoon in Crisler Arena, 60-58. In one fell swoop the Wolverines broke their 8-game losing streak to MSU, extended their own winning streak to 13 games, and held onto the Big Ten lead with a 6-0 record.

Is Michigan basketball back? The Wolverines certainly made believers out of a National TV audience by beating the powerful albeit poor-shooting Spartans this afternoon before a sold out home crowd.


(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The game was closely fought throughout, with neither team shooting well (U-M 40%, MSU 41%), but with Michigan holding it's own against the bigger, stronger Spartans. The Wolverines went into half-time holding a narrow 31-28 lead. Michigan maintained its slim lead in the second stanza until the 8:30 mark, when Michigan State hit their first of three consecutive 3-pointers. They provided MSU's only three's of the day, to seemingly take charge of the game 52-47 at the 6:30 mark.


(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

However, the Spartans were not to score again until the final 17 seconds. And Michigan's supurb freshman point goard Daniel Horton took over in the final six minutes, scoring eight of his team-leading 17 points. When MSU finally scored with 17 seconds left, the game had pretty much been put out of reach by The Wolverines, 58-52. Blanchard finally topped it off for Michigan by scoring his only points, two free throws, to seal the game, 60-55, with ten seconds left.


(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

How did Michigan do it with their leading scorer, Blanchard, getting shut out from the field? First of all they shot very well from the free throw line, going 19 of 24 (79%) to the Spartans' 5 of 11 (45%). Secondly, the Spartans shot poorly as stated. And thirdly, the rest of the Wolverines played strong games: Horton (who had four assists and ZERO turnovers to go along with his scoring), junior forward Bernard Robinson who had 13 points and a team-leading seven rebounds despite playing most of the second half with three fouls, freshman guard Lester Abram who added 14 points, and Michigan's freshmen centers, who held their own against the taller/stronger MSU front line, Graham Brown (four points and three rebounds) in the first half and Chris Hunter (seven points and three boards) in the second stanza.

The Wolverine's 13 game winning streak is its longest since the 1987-88 (the Rumeal Robinson and Glen Rice era) season, and the 6-0 Big Ten start is their best since 1976-77 (remember Phil Hubbard?). And, with Michigan and MSU meeting only once this season, this season's 'State Championship' belongs to Michigan as well!

The Wolverine's next game is Wednesday at 15th ranked Illinois. The Wolverines' next four games will be 'the real test', versus the Illini, Minnesota (away), Iowa and 16th ranked Indiana (away). If Michigan can manage to split these four games...

And, one more point. Does this strong performance with little scoring help from Lavell Blanchard bode well for next season, or what?!


(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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