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March 08, 2004 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-08

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 8, 2004 - 5B

Talkin' the talk
"We're starting to see the
Daniel Horton of old."
- Michigan coach Tommy A maker on the performance of
Horton, whose numbers had fallen since winning Big Ten
Freshman of the Year last season.

SATURDAY'S GAME
Michigan 63
Northwestern 56

Players of the game

Jitim Young
(Northwestern)
In his final home game, the senior led
his team with 20 points. The 6-foot-2
guard also sparked the Wildcats on
the glass, grabbing five boards.

Daniel Horton
(Michigan)
The sophomore guard dished out
four assists and had four boards.
He also set the pace for Michigan
with 16 points on the day.

Finally, Horton plays like old self

SATURDAY S GAME
Michigan (63)

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to Work
T he Northwestern pep band wait-
ed until halftime to bust out its
'Lversion of the song "Time
Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Pic-
ture Show."
Fortunately for Michigan, Daniel
Horton was way ahead of them.
In the Wolverines' 27th and final
regular season game, Horton, who has
struggled on the offensive end all year,
finally played like the freshman ver-
sion of himself.
He was aggressive, his shot was
dropping and, in a must-win game for
the Wolverines, he finally appeared to
rediscover the form that made him
Michigan's go-to guy last season.
"We're starting to see the Daniel
Horton of old," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "It was nice to
see that out of him."
What Amaker saw had to be a sight
for sore eyes.
<::... With Michigan struggling to a 7-1
deficit out of the blocks against an
emotionally charged Northwestern
team, Horton took control until the rest
of the Wolverines settled in.
Horton's 3-pointer to cut the deficit
to 7-4 four minutes into the game was
the opening act.
The real show began with just under
*'4 i 3 ~'12 minutes left in the first half.
{ The sophomore started an 18-5
Michigan run with a driving layup. He
then hit a floater in the lane against
Northwestern star Jitim Young, and
FOREST CASEY/Daily followed that by beating guard T.J.
Guard Daniel Horton drives on Northwestern's Jitim Young. Horton posted 13 Parker baseline for an easy basket.
points in the first half on Saturday en route to 16 points in the game. Horton capped off his spectacular
Abram sits so Harris can shine

run by stealing a pass from Vedran
Vukusic, and turning Parker inside out
with a slick behind-the-back dribble to
set up a layup.
A 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in
the half gave Horton 14 points in the
game's first 20 minutes and, more
importantly, staked Michigan to a 32-
31 halftime lead that it would never
relinquish in its 63-56 win.
"I just did what it took for us to be
successful," Horton said. "We were in
a hole when Bernard (Robinson) and
Lester (Abram) went out with foul
trouble, so I had to step up.
"You just have to do what it takes to
win."
For much of this season, the Wolver-
ines have struggled in that facet.
They've been unable to make the
big play down the stretch, unable to
come up with that big rebound or a
crucial turnover.
And part of the problem is that Hor-
ton, the player who was the catalyst
behind this program's revitalization
last year, has had trouble finding the
answers this season.
Saturday's breakout performance of
16 points, four rebounds and four
assists hinted that Horton might finally
be ready to take control of this team
again.
"Our offense is so much better
(when Horton is aggressive)," Michi-
gan center Graham Brown said.
"Daniel's a great player for us, and he's
even better when he can get to the bas-
ket, and he opens things up for every-
one else."
On Saturday, Horton's performance
opened up a possibility for this team.
If Horton is struggling, then Michi-
gan is a decent team - it's the team
that limped its way to an 8-8 conference
mark in a depleted Big Ten conference.
If Horton is at his best, though -
attacking the glass and creating for
his teammates - there isn't a team in
the Big Ten that Michigan need be

afraid of.
With the Big Ten Tournament just
days away, there couldn't possibly be a
better time for Horton to reestablish
himself as the latter.
"When Horton's scoring, it helps
us out a lot," Robinson said. "Peo-
ple don't know whether he's going
to take it to the basket or put up the
(jumper)."
Robinson was a recipient of the ben-
efits of Horton's attacking play late in
Saturday's victory. Northwestern was
within four with four minutes remain-
ing in the game, but Horton penetrated
into the lane, drew two defenders and
found Robinson spotting up for a
wide-open 3-pointer that gave Michi-
gan a late seven-point cushion.
"I was able to stay out of foul trou-
ble and I just wanted to attack," Hor-
ton said.
The challenge for Horton comes in
maintaining the level of play he dis-
played on Saturday. One game doesn't
erase a season full of troubles, but a
three-game run of stellar contributions
in the Big Ten Tournament would go a
long way.
"He got his confidence going,"
Amaker said. "He's just a sophomore,
and so if he gets his confidence and
keeps rolling ... we know what kind of
player he can be."
That potential was evident all last
season, when Horton often carried
Michigan on his shoulders.
On Saturday, finally, that player, that
fabulous freshman, showed up.
A Big Ten Tournament run - and
potential NCAA berth for the Wolver-
ines - will rely heavily on whether or
not Horton is able to continue playing
like he did all last year.
Whether or not he's able to, as the
song says, "do the Time Warp, again."

Robinson
Sims
Brown
Horton
Harris
Abram
Harrell
Petway
Hunter
Team
Totals

MIN
16
28
24
36
34
24
14
6
18

FG
M-A
2-6
3-4
3-3
7-11
3-8
2-7
0-1
0-0
1-2

FT
M-A
3-4
0-2
1-2
0-0
2-2
9-9
0-0
0-0
0-0

REB
0-T
0-4
4-7
1-4
0-4
1-3
0-5
0-0
0-1
3-6
0-3

A
1
0
0
4
3
1
0
0
1

F PTS
3 8
1 6
2 7
2 16
4 10
3 14
1 0
0 0
2 2

200 21-4215-179-371018 63

FG%: .500. FT%: .789. 3-point FG: .600, 6-10
(Harris 2-3, Horton 2-4, Robinson 1-1, Abram
1-2). Blocks: 2 (Sims 2). Steals: 4 (Brown,
Horton, Harris, Harrell). Tumovers: 21
(Abram 5, Horton 4, Harris 3, Brown 3,
Robinson 2, Hunter 2, Sims 1, Team 1). Tech-
nical fouls: none.
Northwestern (56)

Vukusic
Tolic
Parker
Hachad
Young
Duvancic
Jenkins
Scott
Team
Totals

MIN
40
13
39
40
38
27
2
1

FG
M-A
4-16
0-0
6-13
4-11
6-12
0-4
0-1
0-0

FT
M-A
3-9
0-0
1-2
0-5
1-4
0-3
0-0
0-0

REB
0-T
0-2
1-3
1-2
1-3
3-5
0-2
0-1
0-0
3-5

A
2
2
4
4
1
1
0
0

FE
5
2
2
4
3
2
0
0

PTS
13
0
14
9
20
0
0
0

200 20-5711-129-23 1418 56

FG%: .351. FT%: .917. 3-point FG: 5-23,
.217 (Vukusic 3-9, Parker 1-2, Young 1-4,
Duvancic 0-3, Hachad 0-5). Blocks: 2
(Hachad, Duvancic). Steals: 11 (Young 4,
Vukusic 2, Tolic 2, Parker 2, Hachad).
Turnovers: 9 (Vukusic 4, Parker 2, Hachad,
Young, Duvancic). Technical fouls: none.

Michigan....................32
Northwestern............31

31 - 63
25 - 56

At: Welsh-Ryan Arena
Attendance: 6,712
BIG TEN STANDINGS

Chris Burke can be reached at
chrisbur@umich.edu

By Chris Burke and Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writers
EVANSTON - Most often when a usual starter begins a
game on the bench, it's because of recent poor play or disci-
plinary action. But when Lester Abram sat to start Satur-
day's game at Northwestern, that could not
have been further from the truth.
Abram came to Michigan coach Tommy -
Amaker earlier this week with a way to,
help freshman guard Dion Harris boost his G
confidence: Benching himself.
"I'm still in awe of that," Amaker said.
"Lester came to me and said it might be something that
helps Dion. It says a lot about how Lester is and how he
feels about his teammates and what he is doing to sacrifice
for this team."
The plan worked, as Harris provided offense while the
Wildcats shut down the Wolverines' post game. Harris
played 18 of the first 20 minutes, hitting two 3-pointers and
scoring ten points. Abram contributed to the victory off the
bench as well, scoring 14 points in 24 minutes.
Despite the generosity of the action, Abram never talked
to Harris about what he did.
"(Dion) doesn't need to say anything - just go out there
and play for us," Abram said.
MAKING HIS MARK: While Harris was taking advantage of
his extended time on the floor, seldom-used guard Sherrod
Harrell played a season-high 14 minutes. With Bernard
Robinson playing limited minutes due to foul trouble, Har-
rell stepped in and shined on the defensive end. Even though
he played six minutes more than his previous season high,
when he played eight minutes against Oakland, Harrell had
no idea that he was going to be such a factor in the game.
"Coaches always tell you to be ready," Harrell said. "No

matter what game or what time they call on you, be ready. I
guess I was ready today to do what I had to do to help our
team win."
TROUBLE ON THE INSIDE: In an effort to neutralize Michi-
gan's athletic advantage, Northwestern used a steady stream,
of zone defenses to take away the Wolverines' inside attack.
The strategy proved mostly successful. Michigan's big
men combined for just 15 points in the game, and often pre-
vented from touching the ball in the low post.
"They played a matched-up zone for most of the game,"
Michigan forward Graham Brown said. "They collapsed
down low and weren't giving us the opportunity to post up."
While Northwestern's interior defense kept Brown,
Courtney Sims and Chris Hunter from making any post
moves, the baskets that the Wolverines' big men scored
were critical.
None of the plays proved bigger than Sims' tip-in of a
miss by guard Lester Abram. This play gave Michigan a
four-point lead with about a minute to play in the game.
The Wildcats' lack of a prototypical big man also gave
Michigan an advantage on the defensive end. Vedran Vuku-
sic and Davor Duvancic, Northwestern's most effective
front-liners hoisted up a combined 12 shots from behind the
3-point arc, as the Wildcats' Princeton-style offense kept the
duo off the blocks. That left a vacancy inside, as Michigan
was able to outrebound Northwestern by a substantial 37-23
margin in the contest.
NOTES: With an 8-8 Big Ten record in basketball and a 4-4
Big Ten record in football, Northwestern finished at .500 or
better in both sports in the same season for the first time
since 1959 ... Michigan guard Daniel Horton hit two 3-
pointers in the victory, tying him for fifth place with Jalen
Rose for most 3-pointers made in a Michigan career ... The
victory gave Michigan a two-game sweep of Northwestern
for the first time since the 1999-2000.

Team
Illinois
Wisconsin
Michigan State
Iowa
Michigan
Northwestern
Purdue
Indiana
Ohio State
Minnesota
Penn State

Conference Overall
W L W L
13 3 22 5
12 4 21 6
12 4 17 10
9 7 16 11
8 8 17 10
8 8 13 14
7 9 17 12
7 9 13 14.
6 10 14 15
3 13 11 17
3 13 9 18

Saturday's results:
Michigan 63, NORTHWESTERN 56
MINNESOTA 78, Penn State 62
Wisconsin 70, INDIANA 52
Iowa 63, PURDUE 62
Yesterday's results:
Illinois 64, OHIo STATE 63
Thursday's games:
Indiana vs. Ohio State, noon
Northwestern vs. Penn State, 2:30 p.m.
Purdue vs. Minnesota, 5:05 p.m.

UP NEXT:

FOREST CASEY/Daily
Center Courtney Sims tips in a shot during the first half on Saturday.
WILDCATS
Continued from Page 1B

pressing, and held the lead for the game's
first ten minutes. The Wildcats matchup
zone shut down Michigan's interior game
despite the Wolverines' massive size advan-
tage. Michigan's top four post players -
Sims, Graham Brown, Brent Petway and
Chris Hunter - finished with a combined
15 points because the Wolverines could not
get the ball inside. Northwestern's defense
also forced 21 turnovers by constantly trap-
ping the Wolverine guards.
"We just have to play through (the
turnovers)," Horton said. "That's the way
(the Wildcats) play the game. They make the
game ugly. They make it hard."
But Michigan got back into the game
because of great shooting efforts from
Horton and Dion Harris. Without a post
game to complement, the duo combined
for 22 first-half points. Horton shot 6-for-
8 from the field in one of his best halves
of the season.
"Our perimeter players did a heck of a job
when we needed it,"Amaker said.
Northwestern then ran out of gas in the
ecnnd half and never held a lead as it went

Iowa's Pierre Pierce

AT THE IG TEN
TOURNAMENT
If the Wolverines have a chance
to make the NCAA Tournament,
they will probably need to make a
serious run this weekend in Indi-
anapolis, if not win the whole darn
thing. Michigan earned a bye in
the first round with its win over
Northwestern on Saturday. That
means that, as a No. 5 seed, it
will face Iowa in the second
round, a team with whom the
Wolverines split their regular-sea-
son series. Michigan won by six
over the Hawkeyes at Crisler

040s

..

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