The Wolverines came out of the Crisler Arena tunnel a little slow today in their second game of season in the John Thompson Challenge versus the Davidson Wildcats. The visitors seemed to get to every loose ball in the early portion of the contest, as was reflected by their 10-4 advantage on the offensive glass in the first half. Davidson also received a standout performance from a freshman by the name of Stephen Curry. The youngster was shooting the lights out early on (which should come as no surprise since he is the son of former NBA marksman, Dell Curry). Curry put up 17 points in the first half on a barrage of threes from all over the court (some even two or three feet behind the line). After the game Michigan headman Tommy Amaker said he was extremely impressed.
“Well obviously that was an outstanding performance by the kid Curry," said Amaker. "He was tough to handle. He got his rhythm going early. He is a big time scorer and we knew that, and we still could not contain him. I thought he did so many things for them offensively and he stretched us at times. We had two people looking at him and someone else would pop open. He is a fine basketball player.”
On the strength of Curry's performance and their tenacity on the boards, the Wildcats built a 22-16 advantage with 8:36 left in the half. Then the Wolverines responded, going on a 7-0 run to recapture the lead, 23-22. The spurt was highlighted by an alley-oop from Jerret Smith to Brent Petway.
Michigan's comeback seemed spurred by an increased sense of urgency. The Wolverines began to get to those loose balls and started to get after the Wildcats a little harder on defense. Freshman Ekpe Udoh came in and gave Michigan a lot of energy off the bench. He was instrumental in helping out on the glass. Jerret Smith also added a spark, with his solid floor game. Coach Amaker really seemed to like his point guard's effort, but also mentioned he wants him to play smarter.
“I thought his play was outstanding," said Amaker regarding Smith. "I was so mad at him when he fouled out. We really needed him on the floor. He was very comfortable and confident -- very solid for us.”
Michigan finished up the half strong, going on a 14-4 run to end the half, and went into the locker room up 39-29. In the second half the Wolverines began to tighten down even more on defense. Meanwhile, on the offensive end Courtney Sims began to assert himself a little more by demanding the ball down low.
“I started calling for it and Brent Petway is the one that got me going," said Sims. "At halftime he told me I need to start picking it up. So during the game he came inside with a high low pass and that got me going."
The defense on Stephen Curry stiffened as well, more and more as the half progressed. Dion Harris got into his young counterpart pretty well. At one point referee Ted Hillary pulled Harris and Curry to the side and had a talk with them. Harris was being very physical with Curry, so Hillary decided to step in between them. Even with all of the defensive attention focused on him, Curry finished the game with a game-high 32 points and the respect of all of those that guarded him (which included Lester Abram and Jerret Smith ... both of whom fouled out).
They Wolverines had pushed their advantage to 58-44 by the 10:41 mark, when Davidson went on a 9-0 run to stem the tide. Sims finally ended the drought when he hit a lay-up, and the home team never looked back, eventually winning the contest 78-68.
On the game Dion Harris led the Wolverines with 23 points, while Courtney Sims chipped in with 21. Brent Petway also chimed in with 13 very important rebounds. For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes.
"It's nice to be 2-0," Amaker said after the game. "We have
done some good things in some different halves to become 2-0."
Tomorrow Michigan plays against former assistant Charles Ramsey of Eastern Michigan. "Now, we have the final game tomorrow against our neighbor right next door - in Eastern Michigan," Amaker said. "The players all know each other, we play at each other's gyms - where they come over here and play and we head over there and play. Obviously we are familiar with their coaching staff, so it will be an opportunity for both programs to pitch it up tomorrow and have some fun."
The Wolverines will square with their cross-county rivals in the final game of the John Thompson Challenge, Sunday afternoon at Crisler Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM EST.