IOWA CITY — First, it was the miraculous four-point play in the first-half.
Then, the jumper off a curl that ended a 17-4 second-half run.
Next, a running floater that squashed the half-empty, yet spirited Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
And with under a minute to play, a mid-court turnover that led to two John Andrews free throws.
That pesky Daniel Horton is back. And so are the Wolverines.
The junior returned after missing the past six games with a left-knee sprain and led the Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 9-5 overall) to a stunning 65-63 win over No. 14 Iowa (0-1, 12-2) last night to open the Big Ten season.
Before the game, Horton didn’t even know if he was going to play. Yet, he finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 26 minutes. But it was his presence on the court that willed the Wolverines to victory.
“Even though he played a real good game, I think emotionally he’s even more of a presence for us,” forward Courtney Sims said. “He’s our team leader on the floor. He holds us together. He’s our glue.”
But with under a minute remaining, it was walk-on John Andrews who sealed the victory for the Wolverines. The sophomore hit four free-throws with under a minute remaining in the game.
Andrews — who had shot just 57 percent from the free-throw line this season coming into the game — was stopped by Horton before the first attempt.
“I looked at (Andrews), and I was going to say something to him but he just looked at me and told me ‘I got it,’ ” Horton said.
Iowa guard Pierre Pierce didn’t get “it.”
Trailing by three, Pierce was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Dion Harris with 1.6 seconds remaining and had a chance to tie the score.
Pierce’s first attempt hit the front end of the rim, and after another miss, the game was over.
Michigan was just 2-6 on the road last season in the Big Ten, winning against bottom-feeders Penn State and Northwestern.
“I told them in the lockerroom not many people are going to come in this place and win,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “Certainly I’m sure the weather played a role in not having a normal crowd, and this is the time of year that the students aren’t here.”
Although it’s early, with the road win, Michigan jettisoned back onto the national radar for NCAA Tournament contention.
“That’s a big-time win for a conference opener,” forward Brent Petway said. “We start 1-0 on the road. Last year people said we weren’t a good road team. Our record showed that. So now, to come out and win our opening road game against a ranked team — that’s big. That’s going to help us out a lot.”
Despite a 44-30 halftime lead, Michigan allowed the Hawkeyes to cut the lead to one, 48-47, with 11:42 remaining in the game. The Wolverines did not tally an assist the entire second half after having 12 in the first, but were able to counter Iowa’s continual second-half charges.
“In the last 10 minutes of the game, (they) made their free throws and we didn’t,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said.
Petway played one of his most complete games as a Wolverine, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. The forward logged additional minutes after junior Chris Hunter left the game in the first half with a right ankle sprain, and his status is uncertain. Hunter’s absence opened the door for Iowa’s second-half fight, as Iowa continually battled back with strong interior play.