Harris, Sims shine for Wolverines

INDIANAPOLIS -- From the left wing, Michigan’s Manny Harris tossed the ball to DeShawn Sims in the corner, midway through the second half of Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament opener against Iowa.

Harris immediately cut to the rim, caught a pass from Simes and scored.

Sometimes it’s just this simple for Michigan. Give Harris and Sims some room, and let them shine.

Harris, the explosively quick guard, and Sims, the freakishly skilled big man, are two of the most gifted players in the country. And when they’re clicking -- like they were in Thursday’s 59-52 win over Iowa -- it might as well just be them playing 2-on-5.

The duo scored Michigan’s first 17 points and combined for 36 overall. All together, they finished with 13 rebounds, four steals, two assists and one block.

“They room together and they see each other a lot,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “They look for each other in the offense a lot, maybe too often. They got to separate them being friends and finding the best option. They really click together. It’s no secret we try to go to the two of them a lot.”

Harris got the pair going first. Coming off a 4-point performance, his worst game of the season, against Michigan State in the regular-season finale, Harris was out to turn his fortune around quickly.

On the team’s second possession, he pushed the ball up court, quickly stopped at the 3-point line and drained the jumper.

From there, Michigan got rolling.

“When he’s on, he’s really tough for anybody to stop,” Michigan senior Zach Gibson said. “When he just lets the game come to him, we’re a really good team.”

Sims followed with an interior bucket to go ahead 5-0. Sims then got to the rim and threw down a powerful one-handed dunk for a 7-2. Harris sank a 15-footer to go ahead 9-2. Sims made a 3 for a 12-2 lead. Two free throws by Harris gave them a 14-6 lead. Sims scored in the low point, and the Wolverines’ advantage grew to 16-6. Harris hit one more free throw, and Michigan was ahead 17-6.

“We have big games with Iowa,” Sims said. “They battle us, we battle them. They didn’t have the season they wanted just as well as we didn’t. Both teams were coming out fighting. We had to come out and try to sustain some energy.”

Now, the pair must do the same against Ohio State. The Buckeyes certainly know what the two players are capable. On Jan. 3, Michigan shocked Ohio State with 73-64 win thanks to the. Harris and Sims combined for 52 points, 16 rebounds and four steals.

Another game like that, and who knows?

“You’re down to eight teams, three games away from really a magical experience for these guys to go through given the season we have had,” Beilein said. “It has to go through Ohio State. You have to get that win to continue to advance. It would be great to beat them. They’re very talented. We’re going to have to play our best game. … We’ll just do our best.”

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.