Michigan catches fire from three, advances past Oklahoma State, 92-91

INDIANAPOLIS - John Beilein hates the reputation that his team lives and dies by the three-pointer.

But for one day, he’ll take it.

No. 7 seed Michigan picked the right time to start raining threes, hitting 16 of 29 (55.2%) from long range today. It was enough to knock off No. 10 seed Oklahoma State, 92-91, in the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Michigan, which has won 11 of its last 13 games, advances to the second-round matchup Sunday against the winner of No. 2 seed Louisville and No. 15 seed Jacksonville State.

Coming off of a Big Ten tournament championship, the Wolverines (25-11) were supposed to be gassed today. Instead, they went from hot to hotter to don’t-touch-the-stove territory.

U-M hit 11 of its first 15 three-pointers after halftime, burying the Cowboys in their best shooting game in almost two months.

The Wolverines led by seven with under a minute to go but the Cowboys wouldn't go away. In the final seconds, Derrick Walton Jr. and D.J. Wilson hit their free throws -- and those mattered, as the Cowboys hit a three at the buzzer for the final margin.

Walton again was the Michigan hero, finishing with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Wilson supplemented him with another solid game, scoring 19.

Oklahoma State (20-13) hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2009. It was led by Jawun Evans’ 23 points.

The first half was all about Moe-Mentum. Michigan lost it when Moe Wagner picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game. He sat for nine minutes. It’s Beilein’s modus operandi to sit a player with two fouls until halftime. But as the game began to slip -- down seven with eight minutes left before the break -- it was worth the risk. Wagner entered, got a lay-up, and the Wolverines closed the half on a 23-15 run.

He only stayed in for 2 1/2 minutes but didn’t pick up a third foul, which was critical.

The Wolverines held a 41-40 lead and were hoping their previous 22-1 record when leading at halftime would stand up, allowing them to advance.

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Contact Mark Snyder: msnyder@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark__snyder

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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