INDIANAPOLIS – Going against a squad without a starter
taller than 6-foot-6, Michigan was looking to pound the ball inside
and roll over the Butler Bulldogs.
What it got was a dogfight.
The Wolverines (3-0) survived a sluggish and sloppy offensive
performance to escape from Conseco Fieldhouse yesterday with a
61-60 overtime victory. Michigan turned over the ball 19 times,
pulling down just six total rebounds from its top four post players
and getting very few fast-break points.
“We grew up a little bit tonight,” Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. “There’s no question about
In overtime, guard Daniel Horton gave Michigan the momentum with
an NBA-range 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining to put the Wolverines up
by three, but Bruce Horan hit an open 3-pointer later on, which put
the Bulldogs (2-1) up by one with just 35 seconds to go.
Lester Abram drove down the baseline was fouled by Bruce Horan
on the next Wolverine possession and made both free throws to
retake the lead. But Duane Lightfoot found Avery Sheets wide open
in front of the basket, and Sheets put in an easy lay-up, putting
the Bulldogs up 60-59.
Then, Horton drove inside and appeared to knock over guard Avery
Sheets with 6.7 seconds left, but Sheets was called with a blocking
foul, giving Horton two free throws. Horton made them both, leaving
Butler with the final possession.
“I told myself I was going to make those free throws, and
I told my teammates I was going to make those free throws so they
could stop worrying about that and worry about playing
defense,” Horton said.
Forward Brandon Crone found himself with a wide open 3-pointer
at the buzzer. It missed, and Brent Petway pulled down the rebound,
leaving the Wolverines with a deep breath to take on the bus ride
home. Michigan had just two field-goal attempts in overtime, as it
relied on a perfect 6-for-6 from the line to lead it to victory
after shooting 56.3 percent from the line in regulation.
“It wasn’t a pretty game,” Amaker said.
“But (it was) a game we fought hard to win.”
Butler also had a chance to win the game in regulation —
as well as numerous opportunities to take the lead throughout the
second half — when it had the ball with 38 seconds left. The
Bulldogs held for the last shot, but the best shot the Bulldogs
could get was a fadeaway 3-pointer near the sideline by Mike
Despite their struggles offensively, the Wolverines had the lead
for the majority of the game as Butler was unable to hit nearly
anything from behind the arc. The Bulldogs went 4-of-19 from
3-point land in the first half and 4-of-11 in the second half as
they were able to pass the ball around the perimeter to gain a
number of open shots.
But Michigan was unable to capitalize, as it could not create
the quick baskets it had its last few games. The Wolverines also
could not get anything going inside the paint against an inferior
Bulldog frontline. This caused Amaker to change toward a more
athletic lineup as Bernard Robinson and Brent Petway received
significant minutes in the second half after not receiving them in
“We were hoping that we could impose our will on them and
use our size, but we went the other way,” Amaker said.
“We felt that we had to match up with eventually with their
perimeter players and their shooters. It wasn’t a great night
for some of our post players to contribute as much as they normally
Horton and fellow guard Dion Harris were the only Wolverines to
pull down more than one rebound in the first half, and starting
forwards Chris Hunter and Courtney Sims finished with just five
combined field goals.
“It’s always tough going against guys with a lower
center of gravity,” Chris Hunter said. “They do a good
job of getting up under you. (The Bulldogs) were doing a good job
helping, because sometimes our perimeter players didn’t want
to throw it in there.”
Michigan now must regroup quickly before it will face North
Carolina State tomorrow at Crisler Arena in the Big Ten/ACC