STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Dion Harris got into a sweet-shooting
Here was his routine against Penn State: catch a pass, square up
to shoot behind the 3-point line, then turn to his bench with his
arms outstretched in the air after the ball swished through the
Harris scored a game-high 23 points and shot 7-of-11 from
3-point range, and Daniel Horton had 13 points and a career-high 12
assists as Michigan (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) staved off a late rally to beat the
Nittany Lions 71-65 on Wednesday night.
"He was a catalyst for us," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said
about Harris. "We were fortunate that he was feeling it to shoot
such a high percentage."
While Harris' stroke helped Michigan (16-3, 6-2 Big Ten) build
an 11-point second-half lead, it was Horton's play that helped the
Wolverines survive a late 10-2 Penn State run.
But Horton, playing with four fouls late, hit a 3, then drained
two key free throws with 17 seconds left that gave Michigan a 71-65
lead and sent Penn State fans to the exits.
"When [Horton] hit that last 3, I think as soon as it left his
hands, we were all praying it wouldn't go in," said Penn State
forward Jamelle Cornley, who had 16 points. "We can't find that
break right now and it's very frustrating."
It doesn't get easier for the rebuilding Nittany Lions, who must
travel to No. 6 Illinois on Saturday. Penn State is in the middle
of a tough stretch of five straight games against ranked opponents.
Michigan won its fifth straight, a streak that propelled them
into the Top 25 earlier this week. It is the Wolverines' first
appearance in the poll since the end of 1997-98 season, which was
also the last time they were in the NCAA tournament.
For awhile, Michigan couldn't miss from 3-point land. They had
one stretch when eight of 10 buckets were 3-pointers, including
five straight from long range.
Harris provided the spark.
The 6-foot-3 guard sandwiched a couple 3-pointers around a 3 and
dunk from Ron Coleman to help Michigan extend a two-point halftime
lead to 44-35 early in the second half.
Penn State closed to within 47-44 after a couple of jump shots
by 6-foot-10 freshman center Milos Bogetic, a fan favorite, and a
short turnaround jumper by the energetic Cornley.
Cornley, who looks shorter than his listed height of 6-foot-6,
and 6-foot-5 teammate Geary Claxton are often undersized against
opposing frontlines, as was the case against Michigan. Still they
each grabbed three offensive rebounds, and Penn State overall had a
17-9 advantage on the offensive glass to help keep them in the
"It was a gritty effort by them," Amaker said. "I can't say
enough about their tenacity on their glass."
But Amaker had Harris and his team beat Penn State in
transition. Two Harris 3-pointers and a Graham Brown tip-in of a
missed fast-break layup helped Michigan increase their lead to
61-49 with six minutes to go.
Michigan held a 23-5 edge in points off the break.
Though they've won just two Big Ten games so far this season,
Penn State has played more competitively against conference foes
than in recent years, at least at home.
Claxton, who had 17 points, and Cornley, who was the top
freshman scorer and rebounder in the Big Ten coming into the game,
have been a big reason why.
Cornley gave Penn State coach Ed DeChellis a brief scare when he
fell to the floor grabbing his left knee late in the game. Cornley
returned, and DeChellis later said that his forward had sprained a
ligament, but the injury was not serious.
Penn State had a season-low eight turnovers in the loss.
DeChellis said his team has made some progress this year, but he
wasn't looking forward to getting ready for the Illini.
"I'm going to have to figure that out all night," he said.
Harris got Michigan going with his outside shooting late in the
first half. After Cornley hit a one-handed jumper in the lane over
two defenders, Harris' 3 helped give Michigan a 33-31 lead at
Amaker said his squad did a "horrendous job of finishing around
the goal. We didn't make a lot of layups, but the 3s were going for
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