Michigan Fends Off Creighton in OT, 82-76

Michigan's No. 15-ranked basketball team spent Thanksgiving in Florida to take part in the 2009 Old Spice Classic. In the opener the Wolverines downed the Creighton Bluejays 82-76 in overtime behind an 20-point, 11 assist, nine rebound effort from Manny Harris. Semifinals: noon Friday vs Marquette (ESPN).

Early in the contest the Maize and Blue emerged from a strong defensive showing to grab a quick lead. Holding the Blue Jays to just one made field goal over the first four minutes, Michigan emerged with an 8-2 lead after a pair of Manny Harris free throws with 16:22 left in the half.

Darryl Ashford ended the run with a jumper, and Blue Jay Justin Carter matched a pair of jumpers by Laval Lucas-Perry and Zack Gibson to keep the score 13-8 before the Wolverines second surge.

Three quick Michigan steals, two by Zack Novak and one by Harris, led to three quick baskets. The Wolverines lead surged to 19-8 following the created turnovers. Novak converted two of the turnovers into lay ups 14-seconds apart to spark the surge.

Creighton, though, battled back over the remainder of the half. An 11-3 Creighton run drew the team within 24-21 with six minutes left in the half. The run saw the Blue Jays turning the tables on the Wolverines, and creating easy looks off of U-M offensive miscues. Four different Creighton players score.

Over the remainder of the half the teams exchanged buckets as the period came to an end with the score 37-34. Novak continued his hot shooting with a pair of triples for the Wolverines, but Darryl Ashford matched Novak with seven of Creighton's final nine points of the half.

After the intermission the Blue Jays grabbed their first lead of the contest on Justin Carter's basket three minutes into the second half to make the score 43-42. The two clubs exchanged leads over the next four minutes before an P'Allen Stinnett three pointer capped off a 6-2 Creighton run to make the score 59-55 with 9:25 remaining.

A Kenny Lawson Jr. lay up just over a minute later push the advantage to 61-55, the Blue Jays' biggest lead of the day.

That's when Laval Lucas-Perry, who had already hit four triples on the day, went back to work. The sophomore guard turned up the aggression, collecting a steal and attacking the basket for a lay up and and two subsequent trips to the foul line. He was responsible for five of Michigan's next seven points to cut the deficit to three (65-62) with 2:53 remaining.

Fellow sophomore guard Stu Douglass drew the Wolverines even when he came off a screen at the top and drilled a three-pointer from two steps beyond the NBA line.

A Manny Harris lay-up subsequently put the Wolverines back on top by two, but the Blue Jays knotted things up again on an Ashford jumper. On the ensuing possession Harris was once again ready with the response. The junior forward drew a foul on his way to the basket and converted two free throws to make the score 69-67 with 5.7 seconds left in regulation. That, though, proved to be all the time Antoine Young needed to go the length of the court and convert a short jumper to force overtime.

After an Ashford jumper opened scoring in the extra stanza, Harris picked up right where he left off in regulation. He scored five of Michigan's next seven points on an and-1 and a driving dunk to put the Wolverines out front 76-73 at the 2:57 mark. A minute late Zack Novak would put Creighton on the ropes with a dagger three pointer to push the lead to six. Michigan would never look back as they closed the game out from the free throw line to earn the 82-76 victory.

"Not disrespecting the other two teams we played, but that was kind of our first challenge," Harris said afterward.

"I truthfully believe we just beat a very good team," added John Beilein. "They've got a lot of talent. They're just so quick at all their positions."

On the game Harris led the way for the Maize & Blue finishing one rebound shy of his second straight triple double with 20 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. In his first game back from a partially torn MCL, Justin Carter paced the Blue Jays with 21 points and eight rebounds.

For all of the official game stats, plus notes and quotes, click the following Link.

With the victory Michigan advances to the Old Spice Classic semifinals to take on Marquette who defeated Xavier 71-61 earlier in the day.

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