After shooting 6-for-19 from the free-throw line Saturday
against Fairfield and 9-for-27 from the field in the second half
against Boston University Dec. 30, not many people saw
Michigan’s incredible shooting performance in last
night’s 78-54 win over Northwestern coming.

Janna Hutz
Michigan guard Lester Abram looks for an open man. Last night, Abram was doing more shooting, scoring 27. (JOEL FRIEDMAN/Daily)

Lester Abram wasn’t one of them. En route to a career-high
27-point performance, the sophomore guard missed just once the
entire evening. Abram would have finished with a perfect game if he
had not thrown up a 3-pointer right before he was taken out of the
game with less than 90 seconds to go. Abram hit his first seven
field goals — three of them from behind the arc — and
all of his 10 free throws. But Abram wasn’t surprised by his
hot streak.

“The team just kept feeding me the ball on open spots on
the floor, and my coaches expect me to (knock) those shots
down,” Abram said.

Abram and the Wolverines opened their Big Ten season shooting
better than they have all season. Michigan was on fire from the
opening tip as it shot 16-for-21 from the field in the first half
and finished with a sparkling 28-for-43 evening. The clinic being
put on was a vast change from when Boston University packed in a
2-3 zone and Michigan failed to garner any rhythm offensively.

“Our players being ready to shoot was one of our points of
emphasis because we have been slumping in man-to-man or even in
zone,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We need to be
able to make some shots and take some shots with confidence. We
have good shooters. We just haven’t shown it in the previous
games.”

The Wolverines’ ability to put the ball in the basket was
more astonishing from the free-throw line. Michigan hit every shot
from the charity stripe until sophomore guard Daniel Horton missed
with 8:40 remaining. The Wolverines finished 17-for-19, a
season-high 89.5 percentage.

“I thought it was a great sign for us to shoot free throws
the way that we did tonight,” Amaker said. “You get
some confidence, and your guys start off better, and it becomes a
little contagious.”

Horton believes that the Wolverines’ up-and-down
performances offensively have to do with the way they play
aggressive defense.

“With our style of play, especially for the guards where
we like to pressure the ball, it’s kind of tough to shoot the
ball consistently,” Horton said.

Horton also said that Michigan’s lack of offensive
structure has nothing to do with its inconsistency. Unlike most
college teams, the Wolverines do not consistently run offensive
sets. Instead, they rely on their one-on-one skills to create
opportunities, more like a professional team. But Horton defended
the system.

“We take what the defense gives us,” Horton said.
“We look for the best shots and the best looks inside. We
play basketball the way we’ve always played it.”

According to Northwestern coach Bill Carmody, the Wildcats give
their opposing offenses a lot. Last night’s Big Ten opener
was no exception, and the Wolverines took advantage.

“We have a habit of making guys shoot the ball very
well,” Carmody said.

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