No. 23 Michigan keeps NC Central winless, 77-57
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Michigan has already equaled last season’s win total. Now, the schedule gets tough.
Manny Harris had 29 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, DeShawn Sims added 17 points and the No. 23 Wolverines beat winless North Carolina Central 77-57 on Monday night.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Wolverines (10-2), who were 10-22 last season. Laval Lucas-Perry also had 10 points for Michigan, which opens Big Ten play Wednesday against Wisconsin.
“Our confidence is at a mediocre level,” Lucas-Perry said. “We’ve got tomorrow to step it up. We’ve got to be ready to play Wisconsin.”
Michigan coach John Beilein also expressed cautious optimism heading into the conference season.
“It’s 10-2 and I’m appreciative of that,” Beilein said. “We’ve played a lot of home games. Now we’re going to find out how good this team is and where we’ve got to go with the direction once we get into the meat of the Big Ten schedule.”
Although the Wolverines have upset two previous No. 4 teams, UCLA and Duke, Michigan has struggled at times against opponents such as North Carolina Central.
“We just need to be consistent against whoever we play,” Harris said. “We’re going into the toughest part of the schedule and we can’t afford to play up and down like we did tonight.”
The Wolverines broke open a tight game at the start of the second half by scoring 17 of the first 21 points to build a 20-point lead. Harris keyed the spurt with a dunk off a steal, then a layup and a 3-pointer.
North Carolina Central was able to take advantage of cold shooting and turnovers by Michigan midway through the half to put together a 16-4 run that cut the deficit to 59-51 with 9:11 remaining.
Harris, however, took over the game and scored five straight points to put Michigan up by 15 with just under six minutes left. The Eagles got no closer than 13 the rest of the way as they were held to two field goals in the final five minutes.
Beilein praised Harris, who acknowledged he was feeling under the weather, for one of his best games.
“The 16 rebounds, seven assists, one turnover, and getting to the foul line all those times is just seeing how his game is becoming more and more diverse,” Beilein said. “He’s continued to learn everything he wants to. He’s asking questions. He has suggestions. His attitude right now is solid.”
Nick Chasten scored 15 points and Bryan Ayala 13 for the Eagles (0-15), who played their 13th road game of the season. North Carolina Central is in its second season in NCAA Division I.
It appeared Michigan was going to coast to a win when it opened the game on a 10-1 run and held a double-digit lead through most of the first half. But a 5-minute field goal drought by the Wolverines midway through the half allowed North Carolina Central to get back into the game.
Each team grabbed 42 rebounds. The Eagles’ Stevy Worah-Ozimo had a career-high 18.