Sophomore Ekpe Udoh is used to preventing opponents from scoring – not his teammates. But with less than two minutes remaining in Saturday’s win over Penn State, Udoh committed offensive interference preventing a possible score for the Wolverines.
The bucket would’ve extended the Michigan basketball team’s lead to five in the back-and-forth affair. But the Edmond, Okla., native wasn’t finished denying points.
On the ensuing possession, Penn State forward David Jackson collected an offensive rebound over Udoh and the Wolverines’ blocks leader made up for both his mistakes. The rejection and subsequent defensive rebound helped preserve Michigan’s lead.
“Just by his presence he gives us a lot of energy – him giving us great blocks at big times,” senior Ron Coleman said.
Udoh notched six blocks against the Nittany Lions, his highest game total this season and the second highest of his career. The 6-foot-10 forward has rejected opponents 69 times this season.
Udoh’s knack for closing the door on opposing players gives the team’s guards a little more room for error. With two freshmen in the starting lineup and two other players with limited starting experience in the front court, Michigan coach John Beilein needs all the insurance he can get.
“We have to be careful,” Beilein said. “Sometimes we think we can let our guy go by us on purpose because we have the big guy behind us.”
The Wright stuff: Redshirt freshman Anthony Wright didn’t do much wrong during the first half of Saturday’s game.
The Fairfax, Va., native hit two of his three shots from beyond the arc and was 3-for-4 from the field in the first half. Wright’s performance was a “huge help,” Beilein said.
On two separate occasions during the first frame, Wright gave Michigan the lead and revitalized a quiet Crisler Arena crowd with 3-pointers. The second gave the Wolverines a 23-22 edge with just under eight minutes left in the half.
Wright also hit a big 3-pointer to pull Michigan within four points with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Heading into the Wolverines’ tilt with Michigan State two weeks ago, Wright was averaging just three points per game. But he has averaged nine a game in his last four contests.
“(He) really opens up the floor for us,” Coleman said. “It gives us another threat. He’s a big time threat, a great shooter and has a quick release. That’s good for us to have somebody coming off the bench with that kind of attitude and that kind of confidence.”
It’s an honor: He’s most known for the Heisman pose he struck against Ohio State in 1991, but when Desmond Howard was named a member of the Michigan Hall of Honors during a special halftime ceremony on Saturday, the only motion he made for the crowd was a dignified wave.
Howard received the biggest ovation during a ceremony honoring this year’s Michigan Hall of Honors inductees. Jenny Allard (softball), Ann Colloton (women’s swimming), Bill Hewitt (football), Michael Leach (men’s tennis) and Ruth Pickett Thompson (synchronized swimming) were all honored along with Howard during halftime of Saturday’s game.
“It’s really an honor for me to be honored by a school that I always hold dear to my heart,” Howard said. “(It was) four of the best years of my life – especially as a young man. I hold the school in such high regard.”
Former men’s tennis player Michael Hung was honored in a separate ceremony. Hung was the 2007 NCAA Sportsmanship Award recipient. He is the first Big Ten student-athlete to receive the award.