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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grizzlies get along without Benson for short period in upset

Oakland center Keith Benson left Tuesday's game against No.7 Tennessee with 10:33 to play after tweaking his ankle, which is OK, according to the team. He didn't return until the 7:56 mark, when Oakland was still in the game. Coach Greg Kampe heaped praise on reserve big man Ilija Milutinovic, who played five minutes, scoring four points.
“All I really know is that Ilija was unbelievable. (He) was just phenomenal. He played great," Kampe said.
Kampe was aware what could be about to happen as Benson left the court.
“I couldn’t believe (it). Here we were again. It was a two-point game and now he goes down. My thought process was ‘I hope he’s not going to be out Saturday. I wasn’t even thinking he’d come back for this game."
The Grizzlies face in-state foe Michigan at Crisler Arena Saturday in a game that could serve as a nice follow-up win to Tuesday's upset, or a reality check for the national darlings.
Benson left with the Grizzlies trailing, 64-62. They were down seven upon his return. Less than three minutes later, the score was tied. Benson's return eventual sparked a 13-0 Oakland run.
“The big thing tonight was that we made the free throws. It started out with not being able to match their runs at Purdue and Illinois. At Michigan State, we answered the run, but we missed free throws. Tonight, we answered their run, made our own (runs) and made our free throws and got a bunch of stops down the stretch," Kampe said.
“When you’re a top team in the country and you’re at home, and somebody like Oakland is beating you, those shots become harder to make. Because we were missing free throws, Michigan State didn’t have to do that. Once we got ahead, they didn’t score again."
The Grizzlies outscored Tennessee, 50-32, in the second half Tuesday, the Golden Grizzlies' biggest half since the blowout win over Southern at the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

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