NEW YORK — Michigan’s backcourt must really like
Madison Square Garden.

In the Wolverines’ 66-43 win over Fairfield on Jan. 3, all
four of Michigan’s perimeter players finished the game in
double figures, combining for all but six of the team’s total
points. The game was played at Madison Square Garden, a neutral
site.

Yesterday, in Michigan’s 78-53 win over Oregon, the entire
Wolverine backcourt narrowly missed finishing in double figures
again. Lester Abram was the only one to fall short, finishing with
nine.

The Wolverines were led by sophomore guard Daniel Horton, who
has been playing his best basketball of the season as of late.
Horton scored 15 — which is also his average over
Michigan’s last six games — on 5-for-11 from the field.
Horton missed just one of his five shots in the first half.

In addition, Michigan benefited from hot shooting by its
backcourt players:º Lester Abram, Dion Harris and Bernard
Robinson. Abram finished the contest connecting on 4-for-6 from the
floor, while Harris and Robinson finished with 14 and 13 points,
respectively, both hitting on 5-of-10 field goals.

Horton attributed the team’s shooting success to everyone
working the ball around to find the best shots.

“I think the ball movement was great,” Horton
said.

“We’ve been playing really unselfish, and guys have
been getting open looks … Of late, we’ve been knocking
down our open looks.”

The sophomore was also quick to point out that unselfishness
spreads exponentially amongst teammates.

“I think once one or two guys (works the ball for an
assist), it gets contagious,” Horton said.

“If they make an extra pass and someone knocks down a
jumper, it makes everybody confident.”

Abram said that one of Michigan’s plans was to use its
offensive game to tire out the high-energy Ducks. The Wolverines
hoped that making extra passes on the perimeter would force Oregon
to run around more on defense and expend more energy.

That strategy appears to have worked, as the Ducks managed just
53 points last night, 22 below their season average of 75 points
per contest.

“We just felt like we needed to make them chase us on
defense,” said Abram, who is still less than 100 percent
healthy, playing in his second game since returning from a shoulder
injury. “(With) a good offensive team, you can get them kind
of tired if you make them play defense, too. Our goal was to move
the ball around, penetrate and try and stir it up a little bit
before we took our shot.”

Moving the ball around well also led to one of Michigan’s
best team marks of the season in assist-to-turnover ratio. The
Wolverines dished out 18 assists and gave the ball away just 11
times.

Horton alone accounted for half of Michigan’s assists
— tying a career high of nine — while turning the ball
over just once. He also tied another career high with six
rebounds.

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