ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Opponents had a hard time defending DeShawn Sims in the paint in previous seasons. Now they have to worry about stopping his 3-point shooting.
Sims had 22 points, including 15 off of 3-pointers, and Manny Harris led all scorers with 25 Friday, to help No. 15 Michigan beat Houston Baptist 77-55.
With his five 3-pointers, Sims matched his career-best and has hit six of 10 in his first two games. Over his first three seasons, the 6-foot-8 Sims has only been a 30 percent shooter from behind the 3-point arc.
“My 3-point percentage is going to be out of the roof this year compared to last year,” Sims said. “I’m not going to take a lot of threes unless I’m making them or unless I’m open. I’ve been shooting the ball well this whole preseason. So I’m confident in my shot and my teammates are confident in my shot.”
After what he’s seen early in the season, Michigan coach John Beilein said he’s not going to stand in the way of stopping Sims’ long-range attempts.
“We’re going to let him shoot it,” Beilein said. “He’s got a pretty green light. As far as the 6-8 guys, he’s got one of the greenest lights in the country. When he’s open like that, it’s was important for us to back those down from the corner.”
Harris and Sims each had 12 points during a decisive 29-13 run at the end of the first half that put Michigan (2-0) in front for good.
Michigan struggled at the start, hitting only four of its first 21 shots. The Huskies were unable to take advantage because of their own poor shooting and could build a lead no larger than five points.
Harris who had a triple-double in the opener against Northern Michigan with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, was Michigan’s primary offense at the start until Sims connected on four straight 3-pointers.
“It was kind of a nasty game,” Harris said. “They were giving us open looks and we were missing shots. Then DeShawn his those shots and that got us going.
“Those shots turned the game around. When DeShawn gets into a rhythm like that, other teams better look out.”
The Huskies continued to struggle from the field in the second half and were unable to get any closer than 12 points. The Wolverines largest lead was 28, following Zack Gibson’s 3-pointer with 9:27 remaining.
Michigan hit 36.6 percent of its shots, including 10 of 28 3-pointers. Houston Baptist was held to 34.4 percent shooting from the field, including 9 of 28 in the second half. The Huskies outrebounded the Wolverines 52-39 but had 24 turnovers.
“Anytime you take a team with the size of our team and outrebound a team like Michigan by the margin that we did, I’ve got to be pleased with that kind of effort,” Huskies Head Coach Ron Cottrell said. “We certainly need to cut down on our turnovers. That’s what cost us the game.”
Mario Flaherty scored 17 points, and Andrew Gonzalez had 14 for the Huskies (0-4), playing their third season in NCAA Division I.
“I was very pleased with our guys’ effort,” Cottrell said. “We came out and played as hard as we could play. The guys weren’t intimidated by the situation or intimidated by the opponent. They just gave everything they had.”
Sims also had six rebounds in the game to become the 38th Michigan player with 500 career rebounds. He now has a total of 502.
“What is that equivalent to?” Sims asked. “I wish I would have had more. It’s a great accomplishment and I’m just going to keep striving.”