It’s nicknamed “The House that Cazzie Built.”

Sarah Royce
Senior Lester Abram tied for a team-high 13 points in a 77-57 win over Penn State last night. (BENJI DELL/Daily)

Its real name is Crisler Arena.

And if you’re a cynical Michigan fan, you may call it a dump.

But the Michigan men’s basketball team calls it home, and no other place has been sweeter all season.

Relishing the comfort of the familiar environs, the Wolverines jumped out to an early lead they never relinquished, defeating Penn State 77-57 on their home court last night.

“I think being at home sometimes helps you feel a little bit more comfortable,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We showed that here tonight and our crowd (and) fans gave us the boost that we needed when they came back against us. . And I thought being at home really helped us in that case.”

Crisler has been especially kind to Michigan this season. The Wolverines have amassed a 12-1 record in front of the home crowd this year compared to a 2-3 mark on the road.

It’s clear that for Michigan, Crisler brings out the best in everyone. Despite facing the same situations they faced against Purdue, the Wolverines took their game to an unseen level that wasn’t there at Mackey Arena.

Eerily similar to last Saturday’s road contest, Michigan jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, just to see it vanish.

But rather than fold, like it did against the Boilermakers, Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 15-5 overall) had an answer for the Nittany Lions’ quick rebound.

With the Wolverines up 13-12, senior Lester Abram took control of the game by drawing a shooting foul and nailing both free throws to stop the 10-5 Penn State run. On the next possession, Abram again drove to the basket and put his shot off the glass to make it a 17-12 game. Two more baskets by junior Ron Coleman and senior Courtney Sims put the Wolverines well ahead and kept the crowd on its feet.

“Tonight we just had a great all-around team effort,” senior Brent Petway said. “It seemed like whenever we needed it, someone different would step up and answer a run that they would try to make at us. It was just a good night for the team.”

The Wolverines controlled the first half despite having senior Dion Harris sent to the bench with two fouls just eight minutes into the game. While Harris spent the rest of the half watching from the sidelines, Abram was essential in stopping Penn State’s only true run of the game en route to six first-half points. Meanwhile, Coleman continued to be a force to be reckoned with for the entire half.

The Romulus native was perfect from the field (4-for-4), with three of those being three 3-pointers. He had 13 first half points.

“I knew I was going to be a key player out there with Dion being in foul trouble,” Coleman said. “But I knew we had other players that could step up, too.”

Petway, Sims and freshman Ekpe Udoh crashed the boards in the first half, combining for 10 of the team’s 16 first-half rebounds. Their presence down low kept the Nittany Lions’ second-chance opportunities to a minimum.

The onslaught carried over into the second half, and the Wolverines extended their lead to as much as 25 points before the end of the game.

Its real name is Crisler Arena.

And if you’re a cynical Michigan fan, you may call it a dump.

But after last night’s win, it’s the only place where the Wolverines’ tournament dreams are still alive and well.

Penn State 57, Michigan 77

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