DeShawn Sims was an average 3-point shooter—at best—in his first three seasons at Michigan, but the senior forward has become a legitimate threat from beyond the arc.
Looking to start 3-0 for the second straight season, Sims and the 15th-ranked Wolverines face Creighton on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
After hitting a combined 29.9 percent from long range in his first three seasons, Sims returned to Ann Arbor this fall with an improved shooting touch and has made 6 of 10 3-pointers.
“My 3-point percentage is going to be out of the roof this year compared to last year,” Sims said after scoring 22 and tying a career high with five 3s in Friday’s 77-55 victory over Houston Baptist. “I’m not going to take a lot of 3s unless I’m making them or unless I’m open. I’ve been shooting the ball well this whole preseason. So I’m confident in my shot and my teammates are confident in my shot.”
The Wolverines missed 17 of their first 21 shots versus the Huskies, but Sims connected on four straight 3s during a 17-6 run as Michigan erased an 18-17 deficit.
“Those shots turned the game around,” said junior guard Manny Harris, who led the Wolverines with 25 points and eight rebounds. “When DeShawn gets into a rhythm like that, other teams better look out.”
Creighton (2-1) will also have to find a way to contain Harris, who is averaging 21.5 points and leads the team with 10.5 boards and 6.5 assists per game.
The Bluejays arrive in Orlando following Sunday’s 80-65 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock. Creighton used a 14-4 run to start the game and a 15-2 surge to open the second half to win its second straight since a 90-80 loss at then-No. 21 Dayton on Nov. 14.
The Bluejays, who have lost six in a row to Top 25 foes since a 67-61 victory over then-No. 21 Southern Illinois on March 4, 2007, are 18-114 versus ranked teams.
Coach Dana Altman’s team will try to improve that mark with a balanced attack that has five players averaging in double figures, led by junior college transfer Darryl Ashford and junior guard P’Allen Stinnett, who are both scoring 12.7 points per game.
Junior forward Wayne Runnels, a second-team junior college All-American last season, is averaging a team-best 7.3 rebounds.
Michigan defeated the Bluejays 81-62 at home Dec. 3, 1962, in the teams’ only other meeting.
“Creighton was on the (NCAA tournament) bubble with us last year. We ended up getting in, they didn’t,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “They lost only one player off that team (Missouri Valley Conference player of the year Booker Woodfox), so on a neutral court, it’s going to be a great basketball game.”
The winner of this game plays Marquette or Xavier on Friday.