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December 03, 2003 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-03

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www.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

7

Michigan staves off
late Wolfpack attack

Mathis finally on display
in Wolverines'victory

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer
Facing its first major-conference
opponent of the season in front of a
national television audience, Michigan
pulled out a tough 68-61 victory against
North Carolina State last night in the
fifth annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
"This was a big night for us," Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker said, "(For
our) former players, current players
hopefully for the future."
Leading the entire second half, the
Wolverines had difficulty closing out
the game.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (61)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Hodge 38 10-16 5-7 1-8 5 3 25
Melvin 34 2-7 2-2 0-7 2 3 7
Evtimov 32 2-4 1-2 0-1 4 3 6
O'Donnell 14 1-4 0-0 0-2 2 1 3
Sherrill 31 5-11 2-2 2-5 2 4 14
Watkins 30 1-3 O-00-2043
Atsur 15 1-4 0-0 0-0 25 3
Bennerman 6 0-2 0-0 1-2 0 1 0
Totals 200 22-5110-135-30 17 24 61
FG%; .431FT%: .769. 3-point FG: 7-27
(Hodge 0-2, Melvin 1-4, Evtimov 1-2, O'Don-
nell 1-4, Sherrill 2-7, Watkins 1-3, Atsur 1-4,
Bennerman 0-1). Blocks: 0. Steals: 8
(Hodge, Melvin 2, Sherrill 4, Watkins).
Turnovers: 19 (Hodge 6, Melvin 5, Evtimov
2, Sherrill 3, Watkins, Atsur, TEAM). Techni-
cal fouls: none.
MICHIGAN (68)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F
PTS
Hunter 13 1-2 1-2 2-4 0 2 3
Sims 19 4-7 1-2 3-5 0 2 9
Abram 31 0-4 10-12 0-2 1 0 10
Horton 36 6-16 1-7 2-5 1 3 16
Robinson 31 4-7 1-3 1-6 4 3 10
Harris 26 4-8 6-6 1-4 0 3 14
Petway 18 0-2 0-0 0-2 0 2 0
Brown 3 0-2 0-0 1-1 0 0 0
Mathis 23 3-7 0-0 2-9 1 1 6
Totals 225 22-54 22-2913-3897 16 68
FG%:.40. FT%:.87.5.3-point FG: 2-17,
.22.2 (Horton 1-7, Robinson 1-2, Abram 0-3,
Harris 0-3, Sims 0-2). Bl)cks: 3 (Petway 2, ,
Mathis Steals: 9 (Harris 3, Horton 3, Robin-
son 2, Abram). Turnovers: 15 (Abram 4,
Robinson 3, Harris 2, Horton 2, Petway 2,
Sims, Mathis). Technical fouls: none
N.C. State..................... « 27 34 - 61
Michigan..........................33 35 - 68
At: Crisler Arena
Attendance: 11,789

Down 57-50 with 2:20 remaining,
N.C. State went to the fouling game,
forcing Michigan to win the game on
the free-throw line. The Wolverines got
the job done - knocking down 11-of-
15 from the charity stripe in the last two
minutes - but Michigan couldn't
defend Julius Hodge.
The N.C. State guard took over, put-
ting his head down and making his way
to the rim time after time. Hodge scored
10 of his game-high 25 points in the
final 1:45 of the game.
After two Dion Harris free throws
pushed the Michigan lead to a seeming-
ly-safe seven points (65-58), N.C. State
closed to within four with 21 seconds
left in the game on a Scooter Sherrill 3-
pointer.
But that was as close as the Wolfpack
would get, as Lester Abram connected
three times from the line to seal the
Michigan win.
"We work on free throws every day
in practice," Harris said. "It's kind of
natural. When I step up to the line, I'm
confident. Think that's (true) for every-
body - we're real confident at the free-
throw line."
While Daniel Horton and Harris led
the Wolverines (4-0) with 16 and 14
points, respectively, forward J.C. Mathis
was the emotional leader, pulling down
nine rebounds and hustling all over the
court. At one point in the second half,
Mathis, who added six points, landed in
the front row trying to save a deflected
pass.
"He came in tonight and played
some great minutes for us," Michigan
center Graham Brown said. "He plays
like that in practice all the time, but he
hasn't really had a chance to play like
that in a game. This was a great game
for him."
Michigan opened up the game with a
quick 7-0 run, but t ien allowed N.C.
State to go on an 18-2 run of its own to
take a 20-11 advantage 10 minutes into
the first half.
But the Wolverines clamped down on
defense, allowing just three more Wolf-
pack field goals for the rest of the half to
go into the lockerroom up 33-27.

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to work
ichigan fans, meet the real J.C.
athis.
Ever since Mathis had transferred
from Virginia to Michigan before last
season, Michigan coach Tommy Amak-
er and the rest of the Wolverines had
preached how valuable Mathis would
be to this team.
After sitting out the year the NCAA
requires for transfers, Mathis made a
ho-hum debut in his first three games as
a Wolverine, averaging four points and
three rebounds.
But last night, when Michigan need-
ed him most, Mathis earned his reputa-
tion as a hard-working, enthusiastic,
tenacious basketball player. Mathis,
who was named captain of the Wolver-
ines for this season before ever playing
a game, seemed like he was everywhere
in his 23 minutes against North Caroli-
na State, finishing with nine rebounds,
six points, and an immeasurable impact
on Michigan's victory.
"He's an experienced guy who can
get things done," Michigan forward
Bernard Robinson said. "He showed
that - you couldn't ask for it at a bet-
ter time. He's big-time, and he showed
that."
Mathis is a posterboy for Amaker's
defense-leads-to-offense scheme.
Mathis will never be Michigan's first
option on the offensive end, but when
the Wolverines are desperate for energy
in the defensive low post - like they
were last night -then Mathis is as
good of a choice as any.
Last night, N.C. State was giving
Michigan fits thanks to the Wolfpack's
undersized, but quick, forwards. The
Wolfpack were having success when
their big men took Michigan centers
Chris Hunter and Courtney Sims off the

dribble, leading to matchup problems
for the rest of the Wolverines.
Enter Mathis.
"I think more than anything else, he -
gave us a toughness (and) a player with
valuable experience out there," Amaker
said. "I thought we are young, and we
looked even younger at times going
against (N.C. State forward Marcus)
Melvin and (center Ilian) Evtimov.
Those are experienced ballplayers, so
with J.C. coming in and being able to -
guard those guys was critical."
Without question, Mathis had an
advantage over the rest of the Wolver-
ines thanks to the five times he had -
faced N.C. State and its motion offense
when he was playing for Virginia.
But having knowledge and putting it
to use are two entirely different things.
Mathis proved last night that his experi-
ence could be a huge boost for the
Wolverines all season.
"J.C. came in and played big," Michi-
gan forward Brent Petway said. "He did.-
everything we needed him to do - it's
the best I've seen him play all year."
"I guess it was my best game of the
season,' Mathis said. "But I was fortu-
nate - we have a very good frontcourt,,.
it could've been anybody. Fortunately, it
was me. "
It was just one fundamental display
after another from Mathis in the win. -
"I thought J.C. Mathis' minutes were "
critical," Amaker said. "He was really a
terror on the backboards for us, and it -
was really a shot in the arm."
When he wasn't grabbing rebounds,
he was maintaining his position so
another Wolverine could. He was diving
into the front row of the stands for a
loose ball. He was cutting to the basket
to receive a wide-open layup off a pass
from Robinson.
He was exactly what every Michi-
gan coach and player has been saying
he could be since he transferred from
Virginia.
And now everyone else knows it, too.
Chris Burke can be reached af
chrisbur@umich.edu.

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Michigan center Courtney Sims scored four of the Wolverines' first five points.

N.C. State (3-1) opened up the sec-
ond frame with four quick points, but
struggled from the floor throughout,
going almost 10 minutes without a field
goal until Hodge broke the streak at the
4:49 mark.
Hodge, who averaged 18.3 points per
game heading in, surpassed that mark
in garbage time, but could muster only
15 points in the first 38 minutes of the
game -largely due to solid defensive
efforts by Robinson and Harris.
"I think it took a great team effort to
slow him down and make him not that
big of a factor during the important
parts (of the game)," Robinson said.
"He's gonna get his points, but definite-
ly not to let him get them at the key

points in the game was big for us."
Even after the loss, Sherrill, who fin-
ished with 14 points for the Wolfpack,
still wasn't fully impressed with his
opponents.
"Give Michigan a lot of credit," Sher-
rill said. "They're a good basketball
team, but (it looks like) the better team
lost tonight."
Last night's game marked Michigan's
third appearance in the ACC-Big Ten
Challenge after a two-year hiatus. The
Wolverines improved to 2-1 in the
showcase.
Michigan was the only Big Ten team
to win yesterday's Challenge games as
Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin all fell
to ACC opponents.

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