Michigan advances past Tulsa

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange  |  March 17, 2016 at 2:16 AM
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Michigan guard Zak Irvin had run a similar play to set up his game-winning shot against Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. So, when the junior's number was called again Wednesday night, he had extra confidence in his shot.

Irvin's go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining was part of his team-leading 16 points, lifting Michigan to a 67-62 victory over Tulsa in an NCAA Tournament preliminary-round matchup at University of Dayton Arena.

"He's made that shot before so he felt good about it," said Wolverines coach John Beilein. "The fact that we won those (close) games in the Big Ten Tournament helped us."

It was the third last-second win for Michigan in the past week including guard Kameron Chatman's buzzer-beater against Indiana in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

The 11th-seeded Wolverines (23-12) are hoping for more magic when they face sixth-seeded Notre Dame on Friday in New York.

Tulsa and Michigan entered the NCAA Tournament with what many believed to be flimsy resumes. Both teams battled for their postseason lives Wednesday night in a game that featured 16 lead changes and nine ties.

Michigan, which led the Big Ten Conference in 3-point efficiency, struggled from beyond the arc. The Wolverines finished 6-for-25 from long range.

"We put an emphasis on guarding the 3-point line," said Tulsa guard Shaquille Harrison. "We tried to keep the ball in front of us. We prepared well for that."

The Golden Hurricane struggled in that area as well, hitting just three of 15 3-point attempts.

But, the Wolverines made shots when it counted most.

With the Wolverines trailing 60-59 and less than a minute left, Irvin delivered the game-winner.

"No matter how many shots we miss, we feel like the next one's going to fall," Irvin said.

Harrison scored 23 points for Tulsa, which had a season-low 20 points in the first half but rallied after halftime.

The Golden Hurricane (20-12) outscored Michigan 16-8 to begin the second half.

Michigan had a 23-16 rebounding advantage in the first half. However, after Harrison's follow dunk that tied the score 36-36, the Wolverines led just 25-23 in the rebounding battle.

Harrison later slammed home a delivery from guard Rashad Ray to put Tulsa ahead 42-41 with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.

"They drove us crazy trying to guard their quickness," Beilein said. "They deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. They proved that tonight."

A 7-0 run put Michigan ahead 51-45 with seven minutes left.

Harrison's layup put the Golden Hurricane ahead before Irvin sank the decisive 3-pointer.

Tulsa guard Pat Birt missed a potential game-tying shot, and Wolverines guard Derrick Walton Jr. hit a pair of free throws to help seal the outcome.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman matched Irvin by scoring 16 points for Michigan. Forward Duncan Robinson had 13, and Walton finished with 12.

The Wolverines couldn't find the basket early on, going 3-for-16 from the floor and 1-for-7 from 3-point range in the first 10 minutes.

"We were falling in love with the jump shot," said Abdur-Rahkman. "We needed to get to the basket."

Forward Rashad Smith's jumper capped an 8-0 run to put Tulsa ahead 16-9.

Michigan responded with an 11-2 run prompting chants of "Let's Go Blue" amid a smattering of boos in the home state of the rival Ohio State Buckeyes.

"Our fans were great," said Irvin. "It felt like a home game."

Walton's 3-pointer dropped through the net after a few bounces, putting Michigan ahead 25-18.

He hit another 3-pointer just before halftime to put the Wolverines ahead 28-20 at the break despite going 4-for-18 from beyond the arc. Walton scored 10 points in the half.

Michigan caught a flight to the Big Apple late Wednesday night with one day to prepare for the Irish.

"I might tell the guys to sleep until Noon," said Beilein. "It's a good feeling (to win). Now we need to find a way to get some rest."

NOTES: The teams played for the first time since the 1965-66 season. ... Tulsa made its 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. ... The Golden Hurricane ranked 260th nationally allowing 36 percent shooting from 3-point range. ... Michigan had a total of 47 games lost due to injury this season, including the final 19 games of the season missed by senior G Caris LeVert, the Wolverines' leading scorer who sustained a lower left leg injury in December. ... Tulsa was the last at-large team selected for the NCAA Tournament.

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