NEW YORK — Junior DeShawn Sims rolled to the basket, received a pass from redshirt sophomore Anthony Wright and slammed home Michigan’s victory over No. 4 UCLA with 34 seconds remaining in the game.
But the Bruins refused to give up.
On the next possession, UCLA forward Nikola Dragovic hit a 3-pointer, pulling the game back within one point.
Sophomore Manny Harris then sunk two free throws to give the Wolverines a 55-52 win over the Bruins. More importantly, Harris handed Michigan its first win over a ranked opponent in 12 tries and first victory over a top-five opponent since 1997./>
“When it got tight, no one hung their head down,” Sims said. “Even the younger guys just were fighting. It shows how far we’ve came.”
The Bruins’ fight until the buzzer was fitting in a game that went back and forth throughout.
Michigan made just one 3-pointer in the first half. But within the first four minutes of the second half freshman guard Stu Douglass and sophomore Manny Harris each hit one.
After being outrebounded by 13 in the first half, Michigan was more physical and matched the Bruins on the glass in the second.
The shots that didn’t fall before began to find their way through the hoop. The Wolverines shot 62 percent from the field in the second half, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Harris and Sims led the way offensively, taking advantage of their open shots and pushing the pace to keep UCLA on its heels. Sims had 18 points, and Harris had 15.
But the Bruins didn’t go anywhere.
Despite the Wolverines’ improved play, they never led by more than four points.
In the first four minutes of the game, UCLA looked primed to run away from with the game, taking a 9-1 lead.
Michigan Coach John Beilein called a timeout to calm his team, and the Wolverines responded with a 6-0 run.
The Wolverines kept the game close early with their 1-3-1 zone that led to 17 Bruin turnovers.
“You don’t know how teams are going to react sometimes,” Beilein said. “They missed some shots … and we created some turnovers.”
UCLA and Michigan traded blows throughout the first half, but Michigan refused to go away.
“You can’t let a deficit get in the way,” Beilein said. “But you can’t also be in a situation where you play very well and let that get in the way. That’s been a theme of ours all along, just to be tougher mentally and physically.”
With two minutes left in the first half, the Bruins appeared to pull away again, taking a 29-19 lead with a 9-0 run. But Sims responded with two straight baskets in the paint, including an electrfying dunk off a pass from fifth-year senior guard C.J. Lee.
Michigan trailed by six at the half.
Everything that didn’t go the Wolverines’ way in the first stanza, seemed to in the second.
The Wolverines opened the frame with a 10-2 run, taking their first lead of the night. Douglass began the half with back-to-back baskets, and Harris followed with two of his own.
With 4:58 left, UCLA forward Alfred Aboya hit a basket to give the Bruins their first lead in more 12 minutes.
But Douglass, with maturity beyond his freshman year, nailed a 3-pointer at the top of the arc to give Michigan a 49-48 lead.
“I think that’s why we won the game,” Harris said. “Big shots by Stuart Douglass.”
A few possessions later, Harris picked off an errant pass and pushed it up the court, leading to a Sims layup.
Just moments after that, Sims sealed the Wolverines’ win with his dunk.
As Michigan celebrated in the locker room, Beilein told his team to enjoy the win, but only for one night.
Michigan advances to play Duke tonight in the championship game of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
“Handling success is sometimes more difficult than handling defeat,” Beilein said. “We have to handle the success and be ready for (Duke).”