Dion Harris has some unfinished business.
He had 13 points. The Wolverines had a three-point lead. And Michigan was just 8:29 from toppling its third ranked opponent of the year.
But then Ohio State’s Jamar Butler drove the lane for a lay-up and sent Harris crashing to the floor, where the Wolverine clutched his own ankle.
Harris sat out the remainder of the game, and the Wolverines fell 94-85 at Crisler Arena on Feb. 9.
The Detroit native will have a chance for redemption when the Wolverines (8-6 Big Ten, 18-7 overall) travel to Columbus to square off with the Buckeyes (9-4, 20-4) tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.
“Things were going good for us, and, of course, then I got injured in that game, which I think we could have won,” Harris said. “I had a chance of winning, if I would have been still in. I think I can look at it like that, just picking up where I left off against Ohio State.”
Harris’s health has returned to form, but his play certainly has not.
The junior’s production fluctuated at the beginning of the season as he adjusted from his role as last year’s main offensive weapon to part of this year’s three-pronged attack with guard Daniel Horton and wing Lester Abram. But after he dropped a goose egg against Purdue in Michigan’s second Big Ten game of the year, he finally locked into a consistent stride.
During the next seven and one injury-shortened games of the season, Harris scored fewer than double digits just once and registered a season-high of 23 twice.
Then came the injury, then came two games on the bench and then came a total of five points in his first two games back.
“I struggled against (Illinois), I struggled against Michigan State, but it’s just going to come back with the more practice,” said Harris, who went just 2-for-12 from the field in those two games.
Harris’s teammates can attest that a little extra practice might pay off. Their loss to Ohio State was sandwiched between road losses to Iowa and Purdue and happened at a time when the Wolverines’ defense was nonexistent. The porous defense allowed an average of more than 90 points per game against those squads.
The Buckeyes scorched the nets in Crisler Arena, dropping 15-of-24 from downtown and scoring 94 points.
But after Michigan’s win over Illinois on Tuesday, the Wolverines are looking to prove they’re better than when they last faced Ohio State. Michigan played a strong defensive game and limited Illinois to just 64 points. Illinois super guard Dee Brown dropped 20 points on the Wolverines, but he did it in on an inefficient 8-of-19 shooting performance.
“I thought we stayed disciplined in a lot of situations throughout the whole shot clock,” Amaker said. “I thought that gave us that the added confidence that we needed.”
The win boosted more than the Wolverines’ psyche. After the loss to Michigan State last Saturday, the Wolverines’ tournament hopes seemed shaky. But the win over the eighth-ranked Illini solidified Michigan’s tournament resum