Louis Bullock and Robbie Reid are making sure their young Michigan teammates don't get overwhelmed by Division I competition.
Leading by example, the Wolverines' only returning starters took charge down the stretch in a 59-56 upset over No. 22 Clemson on Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.
It was a three-point play by freshman Leon Jones with 2:34 left gave Michigan a 54-53 lead that they would not relinquish.
But it was Bullock and Robbie Reid who kept the young Michigan team (2-2) in the game. Bullock hit three 3-pointers in the second half and finished 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. Reid added 14 points.
"I think in a situation like that, where you have a tight ballgame, the young guys are going to look to Robbie and myself," Bullock said after scoring 24 points, 19 in the second half.
Reid felt good about his teammates.
"I have confidence in our abilities and capabilities of everybody we have," he said. "We have to fight, claw and scratch to win games, but we stepped up at the end today."
Clemson (3-1) had a chance to tie the game with 3.1 seconds left, but Andrius Jurkunas' 3-point effort bounced off the rim.
Coach Brian Ellerbe, who described his lineup as "crazy combinations," said his plan was to foul on the inbound play.
"But it was such a long pass (to Jurkunas) that we couldn't get to it, which ended up being even better."
"We had an out-of-bounds play that we run everyday at practice," coach Larry Shyatt said. "We have a couple of options off it. We hoped someone would get fouled or a 3-point shot."
The Tigers inability to convert free throws and 3-pointers came back to haunt them. Both teams made 18 field goals, but Clemson made only 17-of-31 from the foul line and 3-of-19 from 3-point range.
"I thought they packed te zone because we were trying to get it into the paint," Shyatt said. "With the obviously poor shooting performance, you have to sooner or later knock in six, seven, perhaps eight, jump shots early in the game. "
"We put an inordinate amount of pressure on ourselves."
Michigan was 15-for-20 from the free-throw line and made eight of 24 3-pointers, led by Bullock's 4-for-9 shooting.
Tom Wideman led the tigers with 14 points and Harold Jamison added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Leading scorer Terrell McIntyre was held to only seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Both teams battled on even terms in the second half with neither holding more than a five-point margin. There were 10 lead changes, seven during one three-minute stretch, and six ties.
The Tigers trailed by nine points early before going on a 15-2 run. They held a 24-23 halftime lead, despite missing 11 free throws.
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