It only took 13 minutes of bricked shots and defensive rebounds before the Michigan basketball team realized that there was a game to play.
But after struggling through the first third of the game, No. 16 Michigan finally pulled it together and cruised to a 77-55 win over Houston Baptist.
The Wolverines (2-0) started off slow, giving the Cougars a chance to stick close. While Michigan was getting open looks, the Wolverines couldn’t knock down their shots and had as much as a five point lead midway through the first half.
Michigan started picking up the tempo from a familiar source, but not from a familiar spot. Senior forward DeShawn Sims dominated the end of the first half, making four 3-point shots from the left baseline. Sims started the streak with 6:03 remaining in the half and the Wolverines down 18-17. After taking a pass from sophomore Stu Douglass, Sims drained his first basket of the night en route to a 12 point first half and 22 point game.
It only took 20 seconds for the senior to drain another three from the baseline and after a fast break bucket by senior Zack Gibson, Houston Baptist (0-4) called a timeout.
Sims also reached a milestone, picking up his 500th career rebound in the second half.
While the Wolverines never showed their full potential as a top-20 team and shot just 38 percent from the floor, Sims and junior Manny Harris did enough to carry the team to the win.
Harris was the lone bright spot while Michigan struggled through the opening minutes, scoring nine of Michigan’s first 16 points. He finished the contest with 25 points and eight rebounds, leading the Wolverines in both categories.
Michigan had no other scorers who reached double figures with Gibson and sophomore Zack Novak both contributing eight points.
While Houston Baptist had no discernable size advantage over the Wolverines, they dominated off the glass, outrebounding Michigan 52-39. The Cougars were led by Mario Flaherty, who dominated down low en route to a double-double picking up 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Though the Wolverines struggled in all facets of the game, Michigan coach John Beilein said it offered the team a learning opportunity as it prepares for tougher competition in the Old Spice Tournament in Orlando, Fla. over Thanksgiving. The Wolverines will first take on Creighton on Thursday and will follow that game with a contest against either Xavier or Marquette.