It seemed so familiar — the Michigan men’s basketball team held a precarious lead late in the second half, and if this season’s pattern persisted, the team would collapse.

But under the leadership of senior forward DeShawn Sims, the Wolverines pulled away from Minnesota and won their second true road win of the season at Williams Arena, 71-63.

After going into the half up by just two, Sims and the Wolverines took over. The senior scored 21 of his 27 points in the second stanza, shooting 12-of-18 from the floor. He was also dominant in the paint and scored eight straight at one point for the Wolverines (5-7 Big Ten, 12-12 overall).

“A good win, we needed it,” junior guard Manny Harris said. “We played a great team in Minnesota, we just came out ready to play. DeShawn made big finishes, and everybody made shots, so we needed it.”

Freshman guard Darius Morris showed poise in the backcourt, and even though he scored just five points in the contest, he eluded the Minnesota (5-6, 14-9) pressure on several occasions and found the open man, finishing the game with five assists.

It was a drastic change from most of this season, when the Wolverines often lacked veteran leadership at point guard, starting either Morris or sophomore Stu Douglass after both C.J. Lee and David Merritt graduated last year.

“I think both teams are the same in the regards in that they don’t have their experienced point guards,” Beilein said. “Don’t underestimate the power of the floor general out there. Our two young guards, both of them … grew up tonight in Douglass and Morris.”

After the Golden Gophers kept it close for the opening minutes of the second half, Michigan blew the game open. The Wolverines went on a 7-0 run off of two layups from Sims and a 3-pointer from senior forward Zack Gibson, who chipped in eight points off the bench.

After taking an 11-point lead with three minutes to play, the Golden Gophers started to apply heavy pressure to Michigan. Minnesota’s Lawrence Westbrook hit a three to make it an eight-point game and Devoe Joseph hit a layup and free throw to make it even closer.

But unlike earlier this season when the Wolverines blew big leads against Northwestern and lost close games at Wisconsin and against Michigan State, Michigan kept its composure to close out the win.

“Our team has been waiting to play that way for awhile,” Beilein said. “We just haven’t shot the ball well, we haven’t executed like we did tonight. Northwestern, we got down early in the second half, Wisconsin, we got down early in the first half. Today we could stay in it, I only think they took one or two leads.”

In the final six minutes, Sims hit three key layups to keep Michigan in a comfortable position and on all three baskets, he was assisted by junior guard Manny Harris, who contributed 20.

Michigan found from behind the arc. The Wolverines, who have struggled all season from deep, hit 7-of-15 yesterday, their highest percentage of the season.

Michigan was particularly effective early in the contest from three-point land as Gibson, Sims, Harris and sophomore forward Zack Novak each made threes in the opening eight minutes to help the Wolverines grab a fast start and a 19-13 lead.

“I think we maybe weren’t rushing some things,” Beilein said. “We’ve really worked at seeing the floor better. Not running plays but being a player.”

Michigan’s other road victory came when the Wolverines came back from a 16-point halftime deficit at Penn State. This win also halts Michigan’s two-game losing streak. And with 10th-place Iowa and 11th-place Penn State on the docket next week, the Wolverines could even start a winning streak of their own.

“We treasure ourselves in having small victories every day even if we don’t win,” Beilein said. “It’s always hard when you’re coaching a team to stay resilient through a hard season.”

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