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Published: Sunday, 3/8/2009

UM rallies past Minnesota

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michigan's Manny Harris, left, David Merritt, center, and Laval Lucas-Perry celebrate the Wolverines' victory over Minnesota. Michigan's Manny Harris, left, David Merritt, center, and Laval Lucas-Perry celebrate the Wolverines' victory over Minnesota.
ANDY KING / AP Enlarge

MINNEAPOLIS - It's not over for Michigan. Not yet.

Laval Lucas-Perry scored a career-high 19 points to rally Michigan from a 12-point deficit to a 67-64 victory over Minnesota yesterday, making the Wolverines' dim hopes for an NCAA tournament bid just a little bit brighter.

DeShawn Sims had 24 points and Manny Harris had 14 for Michigan (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten), which is trying to make the tourney for the first time since 1998.

"It was do or die. We had to get to 9-9 in conference because that was the best we could do," guard C.J. Lee said. "But we still have work to do."

Lawrence Westbrook scored 16 points for Minnesota (21-9, 9-9), which lost out on a first-round bye in next week's conference tournament and now might need a good run in Indianapolis to score an at-large bid.

The Gophers started 16-1, but have lost six of their last nine. If they don't get in, they can look to this game as one that may have sealed their fate.

"It's disappointing," said Jamal Abu-Shamala, who had 10 points and five rebounds. "We had our chances. You have to give them credit, they hit some big shots."

Minnesota led 51-39 with 13:20 to go. But Lucas-Perry responded with three straight 3-pointers for Michigan to cut the deficit to 56-54.

Sims then scored six points during a 13-4 run that put Michigan in front for good.

Minnesota trailed 67-64 when Westbrook got the ball with 4.1 seconds to go and launched a deep 3 that swished through. But coach Tubby Smith had called a timeout just moments before the shot, so it was no good.

"I thought I had tied the game, but then everybody was walking to the bench so I was kind of surprised," Westbrook said.

The Gophers had two timeouts left just before Westbrook took the shot, and Smith said that's how he's always coached the final seconds.

Coming out of the timeout, Westbrook bobbled the inbounds pass, then forced a long 3-pointer from between two Michigan defenders that was way off, and the Wolverines started celebrating.

It was a microcosm of the season for this wildly inconsistent Michigan team. Victories over Duke and UCLA were offset by a string of seven losses in nine games during Big Ten play.

Minnesota shot 55 percent for the game and outrebounded Michigan 30-13, even without freshman Colton Iverson, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. Abu-Shamala keyed a 14-5 run to open the second half with two pretty moves on the offensive end and his trademark hustle on defense.

He then fed Ralph Sampson III for a wide-open layup and the 12-point lead, and the Gophers still led by 10 with under 10 minutes to play.

But Lucas-Perry hit two 3s and a pair of free throws and Sims took over from there.

"We needed (that momentum)," Sims said of Lucas-Perry. "I don't know where it would have come from if he didn't do it."

After shooting better than 65 percent for much of the game, Minnesota's problems in the halfcourt offense returned at the worst possible time. The Gophers scored only six points in the final eight minutes against Michigan's zone defense and committed 18 turnovers to let the game slip away.

Regardless of what happens next week, Michigan coach John Beilein already started his lobbying efforts with the NCAA selection committee.

"I think we have a terrific team and we've won a lot of games and beaten some very good teams," Beilein said. "Those are great people on that committee, and they're going to look at Michigan long and hard. I hope they choose us. We're deserving."

Iowa 75, Penn St 67

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Jake Kelly scored 22 points, including a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in double overtime as Iowa beat Penn State.

Cyrus Tate added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (15-16, 5-13 Big Ten), who avenged an earlier loss and spoiled the Nittany Lions' chances at a No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Jarryd Cole contributed 14 points and a career-high 11 boards off the bench, and freshman Matt Gatens scored 12 for Iowa.

Talor Battle led Penn State (21-10, 10-8) with 26 points and 10 rebounds. He scored 11 in the final 2 minutes of regulation as the Nittany Lions rallied from nine down to force overtime.

Stanley Pringle added 15 for Penn State, which needed the win if it hoped to secure the two seed in next weekend's conference tournament.



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