Manny Harris’ performance lifted Michigan to an easy win in its opener, but coach John Beilein knows his team’s competition will only get tougher over the next week.
The 15th-ranked Wolverines, however, don’t seem likely to have many problems against winless Houston Baptist at home Friday night.
Harris recorded the second triple-double in program history with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 97-50 win over Division II Northern Michigan on Saturday night.
The preseason all-Big Ten junior guard wasn’t born when Gary Grant recorded his triple-double in the 1987 NCAA tournament against North Carolina. He joined Grant in the exclusive club with his 10th assist with 8:15 remaining.
“They told me that I had seven assists, and we had a big lead, so I really wanted to get it,” Harris said.
Michigan’s other top returner, senior forward DeShawn Sims, had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Matt Vogrich hit all five of his attempts from 3-point range in his collegiate debut.
The Wolverines’ most highly touted freshman, guard Darius Morris, scored 11 points in his first start and senior Zack Gibson matched him in 14 minutes.
“This is now the kind of team where we have a lot of guys who can go off and have big games,” Sims said. “Tonight, Manny was incredible and I made good decisions and had a nice game.”
After facing the Huskies, Beilein’s team opens the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., against Creighton on Thanksgiving Day. The Wolverines (1-0) will face Marquette or Xavier the next day for the right to advance to the Nov. 29 championship game.
They also meet Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 2, and travel to top-ranked Kansas on Dec. 19.
“We’re going to play teams that are much better than Northern Michigan,” Beilein said. “Any time you can shoot like that and hold the other team to 50 points, it has been a very good night.”
It shouldn’t get much tougher for Michigan against Houston Baptist, which averaged 56.7 points in three losses at the Rice Basketball Challenge.
The Huskies (0-3), entering their third season of provisional Division I status, were 5-25 in 2008-09 and have two seniors on the roster.
One of them, big man Mario Flaherty, was named to the all-tournament team after averaging a team-leading 12.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. He opened the season with a career-high 21 points against South Alabama.
Junior forward Andrew Gonzalez is the only other Huskies player averaging in double figures at 10.7 points.
This is the first meeting between Michigan and Houston Baptist.