In the midst of a brutal offensive drought of more than ten
minutes without a field goal, Michigan needed a big play in the
biggest way. Not just to save its game, but to save its season.
It got one from a player looking like his former self.
Michigan guard Daniel Horton hit two titanic shots down the
stretch for the Wolverines on Saturday, giving Courtney Sims the
opportunity to win the game in the final seconds. Although Horton
airballed a shot in the final seconds before Sims scored the
winning basket, his two clutch shots put Michigan in the position
to pull the game out.
Just after Purdue guard Austin Parkinson stole the ball in the
backcourt and went untouched for an easy lay-up to tie the game at
57 with less than two minutes to go, forward J.C. Mathis handed the
ball to Horton, who nailed a huge 3-pointer after a Michigan
“(Assistant) Coach (Chuck) Ramsey told me when we came
back out, and the score was tied, to just make a play,”
Horton said. “And J.C. really made the play. They were doing
a good job playing the ball screen, so he just ran a dribble
handoff and the guy went underneath him.”
Two possessions later, Horton made a horizontal cut past two
screens, received a pass from Dion Harris just inside the foul
line, and nailed a jumper to keep the Michigan lead at three.
“The big guys just set good screens, I just curled and got
to the basket,” Horton said
While the sophomore went 6-for-15 from the field and was
inconsistent throughout the game, fighting struggles that he has
had the entire season, his offensive activity gives hope that he
may be getting out of his slump.
Horton led the Wolverines with 19 points and five assists.
“I thought Horton’s play was spotty throughout the
game, but then we saw something that Daniel’s done for us a
lot, as he made some big plays and some big baskets,”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
Taking the blame: Sophomore center Graham Brown played
just eight minutes in Saturday’s game, including just two in
the second half, partly because his left hand was bothering him.
Brown hurt his hand last week in practice and has been nursing it
since. In his limited action, Brown missed three close shots and
picked up two blocking fouls. But despite his injury, Brown was not
making any excuses after the game.
“I didn’t play very well today,” Brown said.
“Maybe it’s the hand, but maybe I have to take the
responsibility upon myself. You can’t really say anything
about the hand, you just got to play your game. I take full
responsibility that I didn’t finish as well as I needed
Brown is confident that he will be at full-strength for this
week’s road games against Minnesota and Iowa.
Almost perfect: Although it has been an Achilles heel for
much of the season, Michigan shot extremely well from the free
throw line for most of Saturday’s game. The Wolverines went
15-for-20 from the charity stripe, well above their season average
of .660. But three of their five misses came during the final
minutes, with both Horton and Sims missing the front ends of
one-and-ones that gave Purdue the chance to take the lead in the
“We missed some big free throws, as I thought
Courtney’s one-and-one and Daniel’s free throws
certainly could have helped us.” Amaker said.
Notes: Saturday’s game was the first sellout at
Crisler Arena this season … The double-doubles recorded by
Sims and Bernard Robinson were Michigan’s first this season.
It was the first time two Wolverines had a double-double in a game
since 2000 … With Wisconsin’s loss at Northwestern,
Michigan State (7-2) now has the Big Ten lead after finishing its
non-conference schedule 5-6. The Spartans have lost just one game
to a non-ranked opponent.