After struggling through much of Friday’s opening half against Houston Baptist, the Michigan basketball team went to a likely source to find a cure — forward DeShawn Sims.
But it wasn’t from the senior forward’s usual spot in the post.
As 16th-ranked Wolverines pulled away from the Huskies in the second half en route to a 77-55 win, Sims’s shooting from beyond the arc ignited the team.
After the Wolverines missed 16 of their first 20 shots and allowed the Huskies (0-4) to gain a five-point lead, Sims finally got Michigan (2-0) going. He spotted up from the wing and nailed a three to start the rally.
“I’ve been shooting the ball great lately,” Sims said. “That zone really forced us to shoot some threes today and I’m glad I hit them.”
Just 20 seconds later, the senior hit the same shot from the same spot.
After it was clear that Sims had the hot hand, his teammates kept feeding him the ball, and Sims made two more threes to end the first half. He finished with five total in the game.
The late first-half run helped Michigan take a 41-29 lead into the locker room.
“When he’s hitting from the outside, you have to look for him,” freshman guard Darius Morris said of Sims. “Once he hit them back-to-back, you have to keep looking for him, even if he misses.”
Sims finished the game shooting 7-of-18, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc, for 22 points and six rebounds. The senior also reached a career milestone, picking up his 500th rebound as a Wolverine.
Though Harris led the team in scoring (25 points), he was inconsistent all night, shooting just 8-of-21. But his free throws kept Michigan in the game early and he finished 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.
The Huskies started the game playing a 1-3-1 defense that gave the Wolverines trouble. And while Michigan did get some good looks in the opening minutes, the team didn’t hit its shots, making just 38 percent in the game. Only Harris and Sims finished the contest with more than 10 points.
Michigan coach John Beilein was concerned with his team’s interior defense and rebounding. Houston Baptist’s leading scorer, Mario Flaherty (17 points), picked up nine offensive rebounds and turned most of them into baskets. Overall, the Huskies outrebounded Michigan 52-39.
Beilein hopes the game’s opening minutes will be a teaching tool, particularly as the team heads to Lake Buena Vista, Fla. this Thursday to battle Creighton in the Old Spice Classic.
“We haven’t struggled in a game since Oklahoma beat us (last year), ” Beilein said. “You forget what it’s like, and it’s important that we learn from the experience of playing teams. They were very aggressive and it’s certainly better than when we would have just walked away from somebody. We’ll learn from it.”