Michigan 68, Utah St. 58
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Jerret Smith scored 15 points and freshman DeShawn Sims had a career-high 14 to help Michigan to a 68-58 win over Utah State in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Wolverines (22-12) will play in the second round Thursday at No. 2 seed Florida State, which defeated Toledo 77-61 in its opening round game.
Jaycee Carroll had 22 points and Kris Clark and Durrall Peterson added nine apiece for the Aggies (23-12), who were playing in their second NIT in four years.
Michigan is making its third appearance in the NIT in the last four years. The Wolverines have advanced to the finals in their last two appearances, winning the title in 2004 and losing to South Carolina last season.
Utah State has lost seven straight postseason games, last winning in the 2001 NCAA tournament against Ohio State.
Michigan built a 14-point cushion early in the second half, but Utah State used a 13-8 run to pull within 49-43 with 12:54 remaining. Peterson’s 3-pointer with 8:14 remaining cut the deficit to 54-53.
The Wolverines scored 12 straight points to rebuild the lead to 66-53 with 2:25 left. Smith had seven points and Lester Abram added five points in the run.
Michigan is 16-0 in NIT postseason games at Crisler Arena. The win improved the Wolverines to 18-3 at home this season, tying its school record set during the 1985-86 season.
There were 11 lead changes and one tie before Michigan took control with a 20-7 run to close the first half, giving the Wolverines a 40-28 advantage. Sims scored 11, including seven during the spurt.
The Wolverines played before a crowd of only 3,114—the lowest attendance for a home game during Tommy Amaker’s tenures as head coach. The previous low was 4,400 on March 16, 2006, in a first-round NIT game against Texas El-Paso.