Michigan Snaps 6-Game Losing Skid

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- At first glance, Michigan's 68-63 win Saturday over Penn State doesn't look terribly impressive.
After all, the Nittany Lions went into the game with a 3-7 Big Ten record, including seven losses in their past eight games.
For the Wolverines, though, it was much more than just another meaningless contest between two struggling teams.
"It was like we were playing for a championship out there," said Michigan coach Jim Beilein. "That's not the kind of intensity you expect when you have two teams just trying to get off the bottom of the Big Ten."
Michigan had lost six straight, and more importantly, hadn't won a home game since beating Oakland on Dec. 12.
"It's been a long time since we've won here," said DeShawn Sims, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. "We needed this."
Sims' numbers were close to what Beilein expects from his sophomore forward.
"I keep telling him that he can move to a higher level if he shows more focus and more effort, and that's what he did today," Beilein said. "He's still got a lot to learn, but I can't wait to see the finished product."
The Wolverines (6-17, 2-9 Big Ten) led 32-26 after a rare strong opening half, but saw the lead vanish when Penn State started the second half with a 12-0 run.
"We can't complain about the effort our team shows," said Penn State coach Ed DeChellis. "Our kids came out and played hard today, even when we got down early."
The Nittany Lions led by six midway through the half, but Manny Harris' fast-break dunk capped a 9-0 Wolverine run that gave Michigan a 53-50 lead.
Talor Battle's free throw tied the score at 57 with 4:08 left, but Ekpe Udoh took over the game. His basket put Michigan ahead for good, and he had two of his game-high six blocks in the final two minutes.
"In a close game, I know guys are going to try to get to the basket," Udoh said. "If I get my angle right, they don't even see me coming."
Udoh is the Big Ten's leading shot blocker, and Penn State's game plan was to avoid him.
"We didn't want to challenge him, because we know what he can do," DeChellis said. "Unfortunately, we have some young players who get excited, and they went right at him."
Udoh clinched the game with his final block, swatting away Battle's layup that would have pulled Penn State within three in the final 30 seconds.
"He made some great effort plays," Beilein said. "That's what we need him to do."
Penn State is 0-2 since upsetting Michigan State on Feb. 2, but DeChellis isn't discouraged that his team didn't take any momentum out of the win.
"We had the game tied with five minutes left," he said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the basket down the stretch, and that's going to happen."
Instead, Michigan got a home win they badly needed.
"I've had years in my career where we've won a lot of games, and there would be some where I was upset with the way we played, even though we won," Beilein said. "That's never going to happen again -- this has taught me to be happy with any win you get."
Harris scored 16 for Michigan, while Anthony Wright added 13 for Michigan, including 10 in the first half. Battle led Penn State with 13, while Stanley Pringle and Mike Walker had 10 each.


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