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January 23, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-23

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January 23, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

c he irhigrn ~aUt
iPORTS

5A

Twelfth night
Wolverines hit 12 wins;
stay on top of Big Ten

NAWEED
SIKORA

Blanchard, Robinson
show experience counts

By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer

"WE WANT STATE! WE WANT
STATE!"
With a seven-point lead and two
and a half minutes left in last
night's 75-63 win over Minnesota,
the Maize Rage was making its
desires more than clear. The stu-
dent section, which has not seen a
win over Michigan State since
1998, was chomping at the bit to
get its shot at the struggling Spar-
tans.
But first, the Wolverines would
have to finish off a Golden Gopher
team that did not want to go away
quietly. Luckily, sloppy ball han-
dling, poor shooting and pressure
defense prevented Minnesota from
making a run at the end, as the
Gophers scored just four points in
the final five minutes.
The win helped Michigan grab
sole possession of first place in the
Big Ten and stretch its winning
streak to 12. The last time the
Wolverines started the Big Ten sea-
son 5-0 was in 1976-77, when they
won their first eight games.
Both teams traded punches all
night long in a game that saw eight
lead changes and six ties. But with
six minutes remaining, the Wolver-
ines grabbed the lead for good off
of a LaVell Blanchard 3-pointer.
On Michigan's next trip down the
court, a fast break, Daniel Horton
slowed the play down and waited for
a trailing Blanchard to come into
the offense before kicking the ball
out to him for another 3-point buck-
et. Blanchard finished the game
with a season-high 28 points on 4-
for-7 3-point shooting and added
YESTERDAY'S GAME
Minnesota (63)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Bauer 37 410 2-6 1-8 2 2 14
Rickert 28 7-15 0-1 1-8 0 3 15
Holman 14 2-3 00 01 1 5 4
Burleson 28 4-7 2-4 1-3 6 5 13
Hargrow 38 4-12 0-2 3-6 4 2 10
Robinson 18 1-4 01 1-2 1 2 3
Johnson 21 0-3 0-0 0-1 0 2 0
Hagen 13 1-6 2-2 1-1 1 4 4
Lawson 3 0-0 00 0-0 0 2 0
Totals 200 2360 646 932 15 27 63
FG%: .383. FT%: .375. 3-point FG: 11-26, .423
(Bauer 4-9, Burleson 3-4, Hargrow 2-4, Rickert 1-4,
Robinson 1-3). Blocks: 4 (Bauer 2, Holman,
Burleson) Steals: 12 (Hargrow 4, Robinson 4, Rick-
ert Holman, Burleson, Hagen). Turnovers: 16
(Robinson 4, Bauer 3, Burleson 3, Holman 2, Har-
grow 2, Rickert, Johnson). Technical fouls: none.
MICHIGAN (75)
FG FT REB
R MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Robinson 38 49 5-5 011 3 2 13
Blanchard 28 7-12 10-11 1-9 1 3 28
Brown 22 1-2 0-1 0-2 0 2 2
Horton 39 5-16 2-2 0-3 3 3 14
Abram 36 1-16 6-8 2-8 3 4 18
Hunter 25 1-2 6-7 1-3 1 2 8
Baily 5 1-3 0-0 1-1 0 0 2
Goninger 2 0-0 00 0-1 0 0 0
Harrell 5 0-0 00 0-1 0 0 0
Totals 200 20.50 2934 844 11. 16 75
FG%:.400 FT%: 853. 3-poInt FG: 6-22,.273 (Blan-
chard 4-7, Horton 210). Blocks: 3 (Blanchard,
Hunter) Steals: 5 (Robinson 2, Hunter). Turnovers:
20 (Robinson 6, Horton 5, Hunter 4, Blanchard 2,
Abrahm 2, Harrell) Technical fouls: none.
Minnesota .................31 32 - 63
Michigan..................32 43 - 75
At: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor
Attendance: 11,468

nine rebounds.
His poised performance gave
Michigan a four-point lead and sent
the season high crowd of 11,468 to
its feet. It was the loudest Crisler
Arena has been all season and
forced Minnesota to take a timeout.
But just as Blanchard's shooting
had gotten Michigan back from a
six-point deficit, Minnesota's shoot-
ing from behind the arc kept it in
the game. The Gophers seemed to
get a 3-point bucket whenever they
needed one, going 5-for-11 from
behind the arc in the second half.
But down the stretch, the Gophers
couldn't buy a 3-point basket, and
the Wolverines wouldn't sell them
anything else.
Just as integral to Michigan's game
last night was the play of junior
Bernard Robinson, who threw down
one of his patented dunks to ignite the
Wolverines in the first half. Robinson,
typically one of the Wolverines' best
scorers and defenders, was true to
form. The forward paced Michigan
with 11 points in the first half while
hitting all five of his free throws in
the half.
"The guys weren't necessarily
struggling, but things just weren't
falling out there," Robinson said. "I
just wanted to force the issue a little
bit, get on the glass, make some
plays happen, get the people that
usually drop the buckets to get
things going. They fed off me well
when we were struggling a little bit
in the first half."
After a stretch when Minnesota's
Rick Rickert used an array of spin
moves and fade-away jumpers to
score eight straight points, Amaker
had his team switch to a zone
defense, After the switch, Rickert.

'I

I.

y

Sometimes it all comes down to
experience. With all the talk
about Michigan's youth, Daniel
Horton changing the face of the pro-
gram and the development of the
Wolverines' two freshman centers,
leadership and seniority have been lost
in the shuffle.
But last night, LaVell Blanchard and
Bernard Robinson reminded everyone
at Crisler Arena that they are still, and
have always been, the foundation of
this team - the foundation of this 12-
game winning streak.
Bernard Robinson worked harder in
his 38 minutes than any other player on
the floor, picking up the second double-
double of his career. In the first half,
the junior was everywhere, dazzling
fans on the offensive end as he slithered
his way to the basket and frustrating the
Gophers on the defensive end with
relentless, in-your-face pressure.
No play is a better example of
Robinson's first-half aggressiveness
than his blocked shot on Minnesota's
Maurice Hargrove. With just over two
minutes remaining in the first half,
Horton collected a rebound on the
defensive end, which was immediately
stolen by Hargrove, who thought he
was going up for an easy bucket. Out of
nowhere, Robinson glided in from
under the basket and rejected the shot,
taking everyone in the building by sur-
prise - except for maybe himself.
"Bernard's play was very inspiring
in the first half," Amaker said. "His
ability to get to the rim and try to fin-
ish with so much authority was huge
for us."
And then, of course, there's Blan-
chard. While the senior's play has been
consistent, indeedinstrumental, for,

the Wolverines during this winning
streak, Blanchard hasn't taken over a
game like he did last night since
Michigan's comeback win over Wis-
consin. Last night, he found his stroke
and he delivered.
"Guys got me the ball in the right
position," Blanchard said. "Bernard
scored 11 in the first to keep us in the
game - a lot of guys stepped up
today."
"LaVell Blanchard was phenome-
nal," Amaker said. "I thought his play
certainly carried us tonight."
Last year, Robinson and Blanchard
were seen as a tandem - Michigan's
dynamic duo. One could shoot and
rebound, while the other could pene-
trate and finish. It seemed like a perfect
match, if they could both get their
games working on the same night. But
that didn't happen last season, and it
hadn't happened yet this season.
But last night, they fed off each other
better than they ever have. When one
was down, the other picked it up. When
one snagged a rebound, the other was
running to the other end of the floor
ready to make a play. Blanchard was
hitting from the outside, and Robinson
was working on the inside.
"It's very important for those two
guys to step up - they're two of the
best players on our team," Chris Hunter
said. "They can lead us to a victory.
They made some tough shots, and it
seemed like Bernard had every rebound;
in the first half."
Said Amaker: "I don't think I've ever
seen them complement each other as
well as they did in the first half."
There have been several memorable
moments during the Wolverines' past
See SIKORA, Page .A

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
When senior LaVell Blanchard went off from behind the 3-point line, the Golden
Gophers went down. Blanchard scored a season-high 28 points last night.

who put down 15 points and eight
boards on Michigan, would not hit
another field goal.
"Their zone got us out of
rhythm," Minnesota coach Dan
Monson said. "We stood around the
perimeter and waited for things to
happen. We were just not aggressive
in there. They did a good job of
changii g up their defenses, but

large part was us not getting it done
on offense."
This zone defense helped spread
Minnesota's forwards out and
allowed Michigan to outrebound the
larger front line by 12.
Now with the Gophers out of the
way, the Wolverines can focus on
the same thing that their fans are -
State.

I

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