Gophers win 71-54 in Ann Arbor

Michigan’s leading scorer, Dion Harris, was held to no points on 0-for-7 shooting.

Bob Wothe

.It has been even longer since it delivered on such an expectation.

The Gophers (15-6, 5-3 Big Ten) did so in dominant fashion Wednesday at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., handing the Wolverines (12-10, 3-5) a defeat on their home floor for just the third time this year by a score of 71-54.

The Gophers’ defense was the key early as a 12-2 run opened up a game that had been tied 10-10.

The intensity and full-court press the Gophers showed on the defensive end held the Wolverines to just 14 points in the game’s first 11 minutes.

For the game as a whole, Minnesota had 12 steals, forced 24 Michigan turnovers and held Michigan to just 40 percent shooting.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Gophers opened the game shooting 10-of-15, led by seven early points from Dan Coleman.

Michigan didn’t entirely go away after the early run, though, and it brought the game within four.

But the Gophers reasserted themselves and took a 38-27 lead into the half after Brent Lawson put back a Rico Tucker miss with two seconds left.

The second half wouldn’t be as much of a question as the Gophers went on an early run and never led by less than nine points the rest of the way, pushing the lead to as much as 22.

A Jeff Hagen assist, hook shot and block led a 7-2 run for Minnesota that appeared to break Michigan’s spirit as the lead leaped to 45-29 right after the break.

The stretch exemplified what might have been Hagen’s most solid performance of the year.

The 7-foot senior center hit every one of the five shots from the field, notching 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds, doling out five assists and blocking four shots.

He was joined in double digits by Coleman, Vincent Grier and Aaron Robinson, who had 11, 14, and 13 points, respectively.

Of course, it all came against a Wolverines team that had lost four straight games, was without suspended point guard and second-leading scorer Daniel Horton and got zero points from leading scorer Dion Harris.

Harris shot 0-for-7 from the floor and fouled out with 6:54 left in the game after starting on the bench for the first time this season because Michigan coach Tommy Amaker felt he didn’t give enough effort in the Wolverines’ loss to Purdue on Saturday.

It appeared as if the entire squad was caught up in Harris’ attitude Wednesday.

But despite the less-than-inspiring Wolverines effort and the 25 turnovers the Gophers committed, the game still goes down as what the final score indicated – a dominant road win for Minnesota.