By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
Associated Press Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Freshman Dion Harris scored a career-high 23 points to lead Michigan to a 79-70 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
Harris scored 15 of those points in the first eight minutes of the second half as Michigan opened a 21-point lead before Iowa mounted a comeback.
The Wolverines (18-10) advanced to play top-seeded Illinois in Saturday’s semifinals. The Illini defeated Indiana 71-59 on Friday for their 11th win in a row.
Pierre Pierce had 28 for Iowa (16-12), which saw its chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament take a serious hit. The fourth-seeded Hawkeyes were hoping a strong showing in the Big Ten tournament would persuade the NCAA selection committee to let them in as the fourth Big Ten team.
The depleted Hawkeyes, however, just didn’t have enough to compete with fifth-seeded Michigan.
Iowa lost senior Jared Reiner to injury in January. Reserves Nick DeWitz and Mike Henderson were ruled academically ineligible and Sean Sonderleiter left the team for personal reasons.
Just six players saw significant for Iowa on Friday, and with Glen Worley and Erek Hansen in foul trouble for most of the game, the young, deep Wolverines wore them down.
Michigan led by seven at halftime, but Harris scored nine points during a 14-2 run to open the second half. Lester Abram capped the run with a 3-pointer that gave Michigan a 46-27 lead with 16:05 to play.
Harris hit two 3s in a row to give Michigan a 55-34 lead with 12:06 to play before Pierce and the Hawkeyes started to chip away.
Pierce scored 22 points in the final 10:30, including eight in a row to pull Iowa within 67-63.
The Hawkeyes never got any closer, however, squandering a 12-2 lead to open the game.
Abram had 19 points and six rebounds for Michigan and Daniel Horton added 14 points.
Greg Brunner had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Iowa.