Michigan Escapes Pesky Tulsa to Advance

Phew! That was one was too close for comfort.  Michigan escapes Tulsa with a 67-62 win. The Wolverines will be advancing in the tournament though, and that is all that matters at this point.

Michigan had four players in this game score double digit points, with Duncan Robinson even getting a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds).  Leading the way were Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who both had 16 points.  As for Tulsa, they were led by guard Shaquille Harrison, who had a monster of a game (23 points, 5 assists, 7 rebounds), but was Tulsa’s only player to score double digit points.

There’s no way around it, this game started out as ugly as can be.  Neither team could make a basket, execution was horrid, and the turnovers were coming in waves. The first half was not pretty by any means.  Michigan went into the break with a 28-20 lead over the Golden Hurricanes, in large part due to the massive 19-4 run the Wolverines had to finish the half.

The second half is where the game got interesting.  Tulsa stormed out of the gate and tied the game at 36-36 thanks to some poor shooting and bad defense from UM.  Both teams would exchange blows, going back and fourth until Zak Irvin hit a huge three with under a minute left and then got the defensive rebound on the other end immediately following.  Pretty much up until the 30 second mark, this game was up for grabs.

This is good for Michigan, the team is proving that they can win games in the final minutes, seconds even.  They first showed us this in the B1G Tournament with the last second shot against Indiana and the final seconds of the Northwestern game.  This is a very valuable team asset to have in the tournament with how close the games end up.

Overall, this was an extremely well matched game, statistics wise, with both teams having tied in overall rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks also.  The only major difference statistically was the fact that Michigan was much better from the free throw line than Tulsa.  This difference though ended up being a huge factor in Michigan’s win, shooting 81% (13-16) from the line compared to just 60% (9-15) from Tulsa.

In a tightly contested game like this one was, teams have to make the free throws down the stretch to win, which is exactly what Zak Irvin and the Wolverines did to earn the victory.

Michigan will now head to Brooklyn to face Notre Dame, on Friday night.  The game will be on CBS at 9:40 EST.  This is a match up that I like for the Wolverines, especially with Michigan’s newly found magic late in games.

What do you guys think Michigan’s chances vs. ND are? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo