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Michigan holds off Oklahoma State's charge

By Jeff Washburn, The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- As Michigan senior Zak Irvin analyzed the seventh-seeded Wolverines' Midwest Regional victory on Friday, he had no trouble pointing to the difference-maker -- senior point guard Derrick Walton, Jr.

The Big Ten tournament MVP had a game-best 26 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and two steals in the Wolverines' 92-91 victory over No. 10 seed Oklahoma State.

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Walton, Jr. and D.J. Wilson each sank two pressure-packed free throws during the final 10 seconds, and Michigan held off a late rally.

"He is a heck of a point guard," said Irvin, who added 16 points. "He makes things easier for all of us because he attracts so much attention, which frees up everyone else. He has been on a tear, and I know he is going to continue to do it."

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Walton made only 1 of 6 first-half shots and had seven points. He scored 19 of Michigan's 51 second-half points.

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"Right now, it's just my mindset," Walton, Jr., said. "I just tap into the fact I have worked really, really hard and trust my mechanics for the most part. I love the trust my teammates have in me."

Wilson added 19 for the Big Ten tournament champion Wolverines, who extended their winning streak to six, including four in the Big Ten tourney.

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The victory sets up a rematch of the 2013 NCAA championship game against second-seeded Louisville on Sunday. The Cardinals won that contest.

Oklahoma State (20-13) got 23 points from Jawun Evans and 19 from Jeffrey Carroll. The Cowboys shot 54.7 percent (35 of 64) and outrebounded Michigan 40-21 but could not overcome the Wolverines' 16 made 3-pointers in 29 attempts (55.2 percent).

The Cowboys outscored Michigan 50-20 in points in the paint and 21-7 in second-chance points.

Walton's 3-pointer with 9:06 remaining pushed Michigan into a 70-64 lead, but Evans countered with a layup to pull the Cowboys to within 70-66. It was close the rest of the way.

"We just had enough firepower to overcome their incredible offensive talent and get enough points to win," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Once we settled in, we were fine. I am just incredibly proud of these guys."

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Michigan led 41-40 through 20 minutes, getting 11 points from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and 10 from Wilson and eight from Zak Irvin.

Oklahoma State got nine each from Carroll and Davon Dillard and eight from Evans.

"You run into so many problems trying to defend Michigan," Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said. "It gets hard to take everything away from them. They were 11 of 15 from 3s in the second half, and that's hard to do by yourself in the gym."

The Wolverines shot only 41.9 percent (13 of 31) before intermission but took advantage of eight Cowboys turnovers to enjoy a 10-4 advantage in points as the result of turnovers. Oklahoma State shot 48.3 percent in the first half (14 of 29) and outrebounded Michigan 22-12.

"I think with both teams, we got some stops early, and then that turned out to get the offense going," said Oklahoma State's Leyton Hammonds, who had 10 points and seven rebounds. "Both teams started making shots."

NOTES: According to KenPom, Oklahoma State played the nation's toughest schedule with 24 games against Top 75 teams, posting a 12-12 record ... Oklahoma State became the first team since Maryland in 1985-86 to earn an NCAA tournament berth after an 0-6 start in conference play ... The Cowboys rank eighth nationally in scoring at 88.5 points a game ... Michigan has won 11 of its past 13 games after beating Oklahoma State ... The Wolverines entered NCAA tournament play averaging the fewest turnovers in the country (9.42 per contest) ... Michigan coach John Beilein was making his 11th career appearance in the NCAA tournament, including his seventh with the Wolverines ... Wolverine players Zak Irvin and Sean Lonegran (Fishers) and Andrew Dakich (Zionsville) are from Indiana.

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