OXFORD – Between Nov. 22 and 27, senior Dion Harris had no problem getting a good shot.
He just couldn’t find the net.
But with three minutes remaining in an unexpectedly tight game against Miami (Ohio), Harris hit nothing but the net and drilled a big 3-pointer to put Michigan up by 10 and quell the RedHawks’ chances at a comeback.
“I knew it was big,” Harris said after the 62-56 win. “We needed that 10-point cushion this time out on the road to be comfortable and not have anything happen where they get back into the game in those last three minutes.”
Beginning with a 2-for-12 performance against Youngstown State two weeks ago, Harris shot a putrid 30 percent from the floor during a three-game stretch.
But after hitting 5-of-9 shots against Wofford last Saturday, the Detroit native couldn’t seem to miss in the first half — even when he had a hand in his face.
On two separate occasions in the first half of last night’s game, Harris nailed shots despite an onrushing.
Midway through the first frame, Harris received the ball outside the 3-point line near the left sideline. Taking a quick look at the defender, he picked up his dribble and launched a shot in one fluid motion. The 3-pointer gave the Wolverines a 22-5 lead.
The senior point guard made a similar shot with little more than three-and-a-half minutes to go before the half, this time fading away. He picked up two points, and Michigan added to its large lead.
“We always told him, we’re not giving up on him, and there’s only one way through this and that’s straight ahead,” Amaker said of Harris’s previous shooting troubles.
Harris’s efficiency came in handy during the second half. He shot 75 percent, including his 3-pointer that iced the game with three minutes remaining.
Feeling charitable: Michigan coach Tommy Amaker has preached attacking the basket and drawing fouls. While the Wolverines reached the foul line 21 times in the second half, they made just 57 percent of their free throws.
“We went up there a few times and didn’t come away with two makes,” Amaker said. “I expect Lester and Dion, our two seniors and better players, to be able to knock down free throws late in the game to help us win.”
In the game’s final 30 seconds, Michigan went 3-for-6 from the charity stripe.
But early in the half, the Wolverines’ free-throw shooting did help to slow a mammoth Miami run.
With Michigan holding on to a two-point lead with more than 14 minutes left in the game, freshman Ekpe Udoh went up strong to collect a basket and the foul. He hit the free throw to finish the three-point play.
Two minutes later, captain Lester Abram drove to the basket with Michigan up 42-33. He drew the foul and hit both shots.
Senior Brent Petway said that because the shots were going in and out, everyone’s form was still fine. He believes that as long as the team doesn’t panic, the shots will fall.
“You can’t start thinking about it,” Petway said. “The more you think about free throws, the worse you’re going to shoot. So you still have to go out there (feeling) confident.”
Salt in an open wound: With the RedHawks trailing 57-49 and Harris setting up for his second free-throw attempt, Miami fans fell back on a last resort.
“Florida Gators!” they chanted.
“They were just mad,” senior Courtney Sims said. “They had a ‘Beat Big Ten’ weekend, and we disappointed them. (The football team) is about to win the Rose Bowl anyway.”