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Published: Sunday, 12/21/2008

Lucas-Perry shines in debut

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Laval Lucas-Perry, right, talks with Manny Harris after getting fouled in the second half. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes. Laval Lucas-Perry, right, talks with Manny Harris after getting fouled in the second half. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The scouting report on Laval Lucas-Perry - at least the one submitted by Michigan teammate Manny Harris - says he is a 90-percent shooter from 3-point range in practice.

Playing his first game as a Wolverine, the freshman Lucas-Perry supported Harris' assessment by drilling his first four 3-pointers in UM's 89-76 victory over Oakland Saturday.

The Flint, Mich., native who transferred from Arizona early last season and was forced by NCAA rules to sit until Saturday, took the floor with 11:55 left in the first half. He hoisted his first long-range jumper with 10:24 to go and nailed it.

Then another, and another, and one more.

"That's why when he missed one I kind of smiled," Harris said. "He doesn't usually do that."

Lucas-Perry went 4-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with 14 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes. His point total eclipsed his career high of nine points.

DeShawn Sims led the Wolverines with 20 points and nine rebounds. Oakland was paced by Keith Benson's 23 points.

After wearing suits for each of UM's prior contests, Lucas-Perry was finally able to don a blue jersey and show why he was heralded as one of the Wolverines' top players before the season started. He said he calmed his nerves during pregame warm-ups and wasn't surprised by his smooth shooting stroke.

"I know I'm a shooter and shooters shoot the ball well," Lucas-Perry said. "They create. That's what I did. I went out there and got my shot going and got in a rhythm."

UM coach John Beilein, who was back Saturday after he missed last week's game suffering from vertigo, was going to play Lucas-Perry even if those shots weren't going in.

"He just came in there and buried them," Beilein said. "He could've gone out and gone 0-for-8, you don't know what could happen. And he'd still be a great player one day."

The Wolverines (8-2) drained 10-of-18 3-pointers in the first half and 13 total. Each of UM's first four shots were successful 3-pointers - the first three by Stu Douglass and a fourth by David Merritt. Douglass made all four of his 3s and had a career-high 12 points.

The Wolverines embarked on an 18-0 run over a seven-minute stretch in the first half - aided by three of Lucas-Perry's 3s - yet led just 42-34 at halftime.

Oakland (7-6) cut its deficit to four points with 6:08 left in the second half. Harris, who scored all of his 15 points after halftime, tallied eight points after the Grizzlies made it 69-65 and enabled UM to pull away.

Harris also contributed 13 assists - one short of tying Gary Grant's school record of 14 registered twice in 1987. He said he was looking to get his teammates involved but credited the Grizzlies with taking away opportunities to score early.

"One of the things about beating a zone defense is getting two people to play you and then finding the there's got to be one person open," Beilein said. "Manny just did it over and over again and didn't give in. It's really one of the best performances I've seen of a kid who's been in that situation."



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