The game wasn’t pretty, but Michigan got the job done.

In the first exhibition game of the season, the Michigan men’s basketball team struggled to maintain consistency on both sides of the court but still defeated Grand Valley State at Crisler Arena, 77-69, on Saturday.

With a commanding 68-44 lead with 8:13 left in the second half, the Wolverines looked as though they were poised to cruise to a lackadaisical win. But the Lakers had other plans in mind.

Grand Valley State employed several three-pointers from Jason Jamerson and turned Michigan turnovers into fast-break points to inch within eight of Michigan. After a 16-0 run, the Lakers trailed the Wolverines 68-60 with 4:47 left in the game.

Faced with the hint of a close game, the Wolverines responded to the Lakers surge and went on a 7-2 run to regain a comfortable advantage.

To cap off the run, senior Graham Brown took a beautiful bounce pass from Horton and scored while being fouled, ending Grand Valley State’s brief threat.

Against a Division II opponent, the Wolverines came out cold, allowing the Lakers to take a 9-8 lead early in the first half.

Following the media timeout at 15:37, the Lakers jumped ahead of the Wolverines when Kyle Carhart hit a lay-up following a Courtney Sims charging foul. But Michigan answered quickly and began to pull away from the pesky Lakers, erupting on a quick 6-0 run, highlighted by senior Daniel Horton’s fast-break lob to a streaking Lester Abram for the emphatic dunk. The junior’s slam gave the Wolverines a 16-9 advantage, and Michigan rolled to a 41-28 halftime lead.

Coming out of the locker room at halftime, Horton started where he left off when – on Michigan’s first possession – he hit a quick corner three. The senior paced the Wolverines with 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting.

“It felt good,” Horton said. “I don’t remember the last game I played in, but it felt good to come back out there and play against someone other than my teammates.”

Holding an obvious size advantage over the smaller Lakers, Michigan utilized aggressive post play and rebounding to wear down Grand Valley State. The Wolverines also pushed the ball – especially after turnovers – and smoothly ran the break, resulting in a number of easy slam dunks.

With 13:20 left, Lakers center Dan Redder couldn’t corral an errant pass, and sophomore Ron Coleman scooped up the ball near the sideline and finished the play with a strong dunk.

In their first action of the season against another school, the Wolverines displayed both stellar and sloppy play.

On offense, Michigan didn’t adjust well to Grand Valley State’s speed and committed 25 turnovers.

Defensively, the Wolverines’ intensity forced 22 turnovers. Michigan used a full-court press and half-court traps on and off throughout the game to keep the Lakers off balance. But the Wolverines lost focus in their half-court defense, failing to pressure the ball consistently and properly rotate into help position. Michigan’s lapses allowed Grand Valley State to continually score from backdoor cuts leading to open lay-ups.

“Our full court press was fine,” Horton said. “We have to get better in the half-court. We allowed a lot of easy baskets. These are all things that we can correct, so I think that we’re headed in the right direction.”

Sparking Michigan, senior Chris Hunter ignited his teammates and the crowd with several outstanding defensive plays.

With 6:36 left in the first half, the Lakers’ Carhart drove to the baseline with three seconds left on the shot clock. He rose and floated a running jumper which Hunter skied toward and swatted deep into the stands.

Hunter continued his inspired play on the offensive side, scoring 15 points. In the second half, he hit a wide-open 3-pointer at the top of the key. Then, later in that half, the senior showed off his wingspan, blocking a lay-up attempt on the right side. At 12:13, Hunter brought the crowd to a roar when he grabbed an offensive rebound and fought off his defender to convert the put-back while absorbing the foul.

“I thought Chris played very well,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “The main things about Chris were his rebounds and free- throw shooting. He was very productive for our team. He looked like he was a veteran ballplayer, and it was nice to see that.”

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