NEW YORK — Behind the scoring of its backcourt and the
poise of its defense, the Michigan basketball team cruised to a
66-43 win over Fairfield at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Kate Green
AP PHOTO
Daniel Horton and the rest of the Wolverine guards recovered nicely from their loss to Boston University.

After giving up a layup off the opening tip, Michigan went on to
control the first half.

Leading 25-19 with 1:14 remaining in the half, Michigan forward
Bernard Robinson hit a pull-up jumper coming out of a media
timeout. On the ensuing Fairfield possession, guard Lester Abram
came up with a steal, which led to a 3-pointer by guard Daniel
Horton with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Michigan extended its lead to 30-19 at halftime and never looked
back.

“We wanted to see if we could close it out — we
talked about finishing the half in a certain manner,”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “I didn’t anticipate
we’d score that three at the end, but I was hoping that we
could burn some time and score on that previous
possession.”

Leading by double digits for the entire second half, Michigan
seemed on its way to an easy victory, but Fairfield (7-3) made one
last surge, scoring six unanswered points in two minutes to cut the
deficit to 15 with 5:28 to go.

Robinson answered back, going on a personal 6-0 run for Michigan
— highlighted by a breakaway dunk — on its next three
possessions to push the lead back to 21 and end any hope for
Fairfield.

The win was Michigan’s second victory away from Crisler.
In the Wolverines other games on the road this season, they
squeaked by Butler 61-60 in overtime at a neutral site, Conseco
Fieldhouse, on Nov. 30, and suffered a 20-point loss at Vanderbilt
on Dec. 6.

Throughout the game, Michigan’s defense was too quick and
physical for an overmatched Fairfield team.

The Wolverines forced the Stags to commit 23 turnovers and held
their leading scorer, 6-foot-9 forward Deng Gai, to just eight
points on 3-of-8 shooting.

Fairfield’s total of 43 points was the lowest Michigan has
allowed an opponent all season.

“They didn’t let us do anything,” said
Fairfield coach Tim O’Toole, who coached with Amaker at both
Duke and Seton Hall. “They took us out of everything we
wanted to do. They manhandled us.”

Gai was also stymied on the defensive end, blocking just two
shots, down from his season average of 5.5 blocks per game.

The Wolverines were paced by consistent play from their guards
and wings. Robinson (19), Horton (17), Dion Harris (13) and Abram
(11) combined for 60 of the team’s 66 points.

Michigan also hit 8-for-17 from beyond the arc, something the
team had struggled with in last Tuesday’s 61-60 loss to
Boston University, when the team shot just 6-for-26 from
downtown.

“As a whole, I don’t think we had played as good as
we all can at the same time,” Robinson said. “Today, we
played up to our capabilities at the same time.”

In addition to scoring, the Wolverines took care of the ball.
Horton, Harris and Abram each turned it over just once, and the
team combined for just 13 giveaways.

“I think we’ve been a team that has been a little
careless with the ball,” Amaker said. “We value the
ball as a point of emphasis coming into this game.”

For Fairfield, sophomore guard Terrance Todd paced the team with
10 points and six assists, and junior guard Kudjo Sogadzi led the
Stags with 11 points off the bench.

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