Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Spike Albrecht totaled 11 points and a career-high nine assists with no turnovers off the bench as No. 17 Michigan held off Syracuse, 68-65, in this installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Albrecht, who became a household name when he scored 17 first-half points against Louisville in the National Championship game two years ago, broke a 63-63 deadlock when he stepped into an NBA range 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play.
"It's really hard to go to one person against that zone," said Michigan head coach John Beilein. "We tried to get an action that would allow us to get a ball screen ... somebody was going to have to make a big shot, but it was a very simple scheme that worked for us."
Michael Gbinije got a quick two at the other end, and Syracuse (5-2) had two chances to take a lead after Michigan missed two free throws but squandered both. Chris McCullough, who secured Derrick Walton's miss from the line, overthrew Kaleb Joseph on his outlet pass. LeVert then missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Joseph lost the ball on a drive to the basket.
LeVert sank two with 4.5 to play, and Joseph's final look from 3 hit nothing but air as the clock expired.
Zak Irvin led Michigan (6-1) with 18 points while LeVert and Ricky Doyle scored 12 apiece. The Wolverines improved to 5-0 at home this season.
Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas had 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the setback. McCullough finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Michigan started 0-for-7 from the floor before Kameron Chatman finally hit a jumper from the free throw line. That bucket sparked a 9-0 Wolverines run, with Irvin canning a 3 and throwing down a dunk in transition during the spurt.
Gbinije then capped an 8-0 Orange run with a three-point play. It was 12-9 at that point, and neither team led by more than three during the rest of a back- and-forth first half.
Christmas followed another Irvin dunk with a three-point play at the other end, and Syracuse led 31-29 at halftime.
It was a tale of two halves for Michigan's outside shooting. The Maize and Blue struggled to find the range in the opening 20 minutes, shooting just 3- for-17 from the arc before erupting for 8-of-16 in the second half.
Albrecht came alive early in the second half. He had a hand in 12 straight points for the Wolverines. The junior hit a 3, assisted on triples by Walton and Irvin, and went behind the back to set up Doyle's three-point play. Cooney hit a pair of treys during that run to keep Syracuse close.
"We made some adjustments at the half and we played much better the second half," Albrecht said.
Albrecht then potted another long 3-pointer and assisted on two more baskets, including Irvin's fourth 3 of the game, and the Wolverines went up 58-48 with seven minutes to play.
Syracuse used an 11-3 run from there to close the gap to two. Cooney hit twice from behind the arc and McCullough scored four points during the spurt that forced Michigan to use a timeout.
With 56 seconds remaining, Christmas tied the game with an uncontested layup.
Walton returned after missing one game with a toe injury ... Syracuse had 19 turnovers compared to just seven from Michigan ... Chatman had 10 points and a career-best nine rebounds.