The worst 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten by a wide margin, Michigan is finally starting to find its rhythm.
The Wolverines made a season-high 14 3-pointers in Tuesday's win at Iowa, including seven of their first nine attempts, and are 21 of 41 (51 percent) from behind the arc the last two games.
Michigan entered the week shooting an abysmal 29.8 percent from 3-point range on the third-most attempts in the league.
Wolverines coach John Beilein has encouraged his team to shoot its way out its slump, but Michigan's recent success is more than a product of volume.
Sharpshooters Zack Novak and Stu Douglass have gotten better spot-up looks off drive-and-kicks the last two games, and the Wolverines have benefited from timely makes.
Against Iowa, DeShawn Sims drained the tying 3-pointer in the waning seconds of regulation, and Douglass gave the Wolverines the lead for good on a triple with 1:42 left in overtime.
Michigan still has plenty of offensive issues -- and at 13-12 a ways to go to make the NIT. But with Penn State, the Big Ten's worst 3-point defensive team, coming to town Saturday, there's no reason the Wolverines' recent hot streak shouldn't continue.
MICHIGAN 80, IOWA 78, OT: DeShawn Sims scored a team-high 27 points as Michigan won back-to-back Big Ten road games for the first time since 2006.
Sims buried the game-tying 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in regulation and added 10 rebounds, his seventh double-double of the year.
Manny Harris also had a double-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Laval Lucas-Perry scored 13 off the bench for the Wolverines.
Aaron Fuller scored a career-high 30 points for Iowa.
--Michigan's 71-point outburst last week against Minnesota was its first 70-point game since a Jan. 3 win over Evan Turner-less Ohio State (73-64). In the 10 games in between, Michigan went 4-1 when it scored at least 60 points and 0-5 in games it was held below 60.
--Manny Harris told reporters after Michigan's loss at Northwestern that he plans to return for his senior season. "A lot of these guys, like myself, got to come back and play next year," Harris told The Detroit Free Press, adding that he's confident in his decision.
ON THE SPOT: Freshman point guard Darius Morris has looked at home since returning to the starting lineup, but Morris regressed in Tuesday's win over Iowa. The California native did not score a point, badly missed his only two 3-point attempts and finished with two assists in 25 minutes. While Morris is clearly Michigan's floor general of the future, things are bound to get worse before they get better. Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, Morris will play Illinois' Demetri McCamey, Penn State's Talor Battle and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas, three of the best guards in the Big Ten.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "During the practice time we've had the last couple of weeks, we've really worked at just seeing the floor better, not running plays but being a player. Sometimes we don't see anything and then we go around like robots. That's been a major emphasis the last couple of weeks." -- Michigan coach John Beilein on his team's improved play of late.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Michigan stopped an ugly slide, in which it had lost five of six games, with wins at Minnesota and Iowa. Still, the Wolverines' season would be an unqualified disappointment. Michigan began the season ranked in the top 15 and might not even make the NIT. The Wolverines are 13-12, including a win over Division II Northern Michigan, and lack size, consistent shooters and leadership.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Manny Harris, G Darius Morris, G Zach Novak, G Stu Douglas, F DeShawn Sims. Key Subs -- G Laval Lucas-Perry, F Anthony Wright, C Zack Gibson.
Northwestern 67, Michigan 52
Wisconsin 62, Michigan 44
Michigan 71, Minnesota 63
Michigan 80, Iowa 78 (OT)
vs. Penn State, Saturday, Feb. 20
vs. Illinois, Tuesday, Feb. 23
at Ohio State, Saturday, Feb. 27
vs. Minnesota, Tuesday, March 2
IN FOCUS: The Wolverines shot the ball better Tuesday at Iowa but have been inconsistent on offense all season. Saturday's game against lowly Penn State is their chance to get something going for a change.
--Laval Lucas-Perry made three first-half 3-pointers against Iowa and finished with 13 points, his most since a 16-point outing Jan. 7 against Penn State. Benched in favor of Darius Morris earlier this month, Lucas-Perry had been held scoreless in five of Michigan's first 12 Big Ten games.
--Michigan is 7-0 this year when both Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims score at least 20 points in a game. Harris and Sims entered the week averaging a combined 35.9 points per game, or 55 percent of the Wolverines' offense, most in the Big Ten.
--Redshirt freshman Ben Cronin, who's out for the season with complications from hip surgery, told AnnArbor.com he still hopes to resume his basketball career. Michigan coach John Beilein said Cronin's probably would never play again when he announced the 7-footer's injury earlier this season. Cronin, who missed most of last year with a left hip injury, still walks with a noticeable limp.
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