For a while, it looked like junior Manny Harris would never get it going.

Through the first 28 minutes of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s contest against Indiana in Crisler Arena, the Detroit native was stifled to just four points.

Then, in the final 12 minutes, Harris erupted, scoring 17 of the Wolverines’ final 29 points to lead Michigan to a 69-45 win over the Hoosiers.

Harris started with a nice curl around the Indiana defense en route to a layup and came back on his next two possessions with baskets to give Michigan a 44-36 lead.

While Indiana was able to pull within five points with about six minutes remaining in the game, the Wolverines put it away on a series of four possessions led by Harris. After missing a hook shot, Harris went up to grab his own rebound and put it back for a layup.

After two consecutive stops by the Wolverines and a pair of fastbreak layups by freshman Darius Morris and sophomore Laval Lucas-Perry, Harris came back to drain a critical 3-pointer that put the Wolverines up 57-45. The basket essentially sealed the game for Michigan, which finished the game on a 29-9 run to close out the Hoosiers.

“That’s a damn good finish,” sophomore Laval Lucas-Perry said. “We really buckled down and played with poise at the end.”

But things didn’t go so well for Harris and the Wolverines earlier in the game. Indiana guard Jeremiah Rivers played lockdown defense on Harris, neutralizing him as a scoring threat and forcing four turnovers from the junior guard.

Rivers frustrated him enough that Michigan coach John Beilein decided to bench Harris for five minutes in the second half.

“I missed an assignment on the block-out,” Harris said. “Coach took me out to teach me a lesson, and I just knew that when I came in we needed some spark from somewhere and that’s what I tried to do.”

Senior DeShawn Sims was once again the most consistent Wolverine, finishing second to Harris with 20 points and leading the team during the sloppy first half of the contest with 12.

While Harris looked bad in the first half, he wasn’t alone.

From the opening tipoff it looked like a typical, low-scoring Big Ten game, with a combination of smothering defense and sloppy play by each team.

Michigan committed 11 first-half turnovers, many of which were unforced. The Hoosiers weren’t much better, committing 10 themselves.

Beilein attributed the low-scoring game to good defense from both squads.

“I was really impressed with how (we) played defense today,” Beilein said. “It was another great example of Big Ten defense. If we don’t guard, we don’t win this game today.”

And while the Wolverines might need an epic performance to pull off an upset against Connecticut at Crisler Arena on Sunday, they are content with not collapsing down the stretch against Indiana like they did in their last contest against Northwestern.

“You look at that clock with eight minutes and you’re not saying to them ‘don’t blow this one,’ ” Beilein said. “You’re just saying good job and just keep it up and we’re winning with our defense.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.