Michigan 90, Detroit 58

Michigan 90, Detroit 58 Comment Count

Ace December 16th, 2017 at 2:49 PM


Detroit couldn't break through the Wall of Teske. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Mercy.

Fine, some notes:

Detroit was awful. I need to get this out of the way before discussing anything else from this game. Detroit came out looking like a team that had quit on Bacari Alexander, going 5-for-23 from the field in the first half with as many turnovers (15) as rebounds while allowing a parade of open threes for Michigan. Things didn't improve much in the second half. Unfortunately, Alexander may not be long for that job—there's only so much to take away from this game on the Michigan side because of how poorly Detroit played.

While Moe Wagner sat, Jon Teske balled out. As expected, Wagner's minor ankle sprain kept him out. Michigan didn't miss a beat with Teske in the middle, as Detroit simply couldn't handle his size on either end of the floor. In 28 minutes, he scored 15 points on 14 shot equivalents, pulled down six of his ten rebounds on the offensive end, came up with two steals, and somehow didn't record a block while impacting a number of shots. Teske's stamina got tested a bit as Austin Davis fouled out in seven minutes (Davis did provide four points before his exit) and he held up well.

Charles Matthews had a great second half. Matthews didn't even arrive at the arena until 45 minutes before tipoff. Per The Athletic's Brendan Quinn, Matthews's grandmother passed away last week, and Charles went with assistant coach DeAndre Haynes to the funeral yesterday before flying back to Detroit this morning. After a slow start, Matthews was brilliant in the second half, scoring 17 of his 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting while getting to the rim at will.

(Almost) everyone shot well. Duncan Robinson broke out of his funk with a 3-for-4 performance from downtown; Zavier Simpson hit both his triples and 3-of-5 twos; Jordan Poole scored 12 points on ten shots in just 15 minutes; even Ibi Watson got into the act, making 2-of-3 threes. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Eli Brooks were the main exceptions, going a combined 2-for-10.

Isaiah Livers is getting close. He played with great energy, recording five offensive rebounds and two blocks. He showed off his passing skill with three assists, including couple really nice post feeds. He's on the verge of a breakout, but after missing his only three-point attempt, he's 2-for-15 from beyond the arc this season. His form looks fine; if/when those shots start falling, he's going to push for a bigger role and quite possibly Robinson's starting spot.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 59, Texas 52

Michigan 59, Texas 52 Comment Count

Ace December 12th, 2017 at 11:56 PM

It may have been ugly. Texas may have been shorthanded. For Michigan, though, tonight's 59-52 road victory over the Longhorns capped a huge week for their tournament chances.

While a defensive slugfest wasn't the unlikeliest scenario, I don't think anybody expected this game to play out the way it did. Both teams struggled to hit from beyond the arc, but Michigan scored more efficiently than a tall Texas squad on two-pointers, especially as they built a 12-point halftime lead. The Longhorns led 2-0 at the under-16 timeout; they wouldn't lead again. Facing five-star skyscraper Mo Bamba, Michigan won the battle of the boards.

After the achingly slow start, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got the team rolling with a corner three and never looked back. The Wolverines, especially MAAR, got more confident attacking the basket even with Bamba protecting the rim, and they were able to hit a surprising number of tough shots. Of Michigan's 14 first-half field goals, 12 were two-pointers.

The lead didn't remain comfortable for long as Texas made multiple second-half surges. Duncan Robinson and Isaiah Livers both had trouble slowing down Dylan Osetkowski, who led the way for Texas with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He was the only Texas player who could maintain any sort of effeciency on offense, however; the rest of the team went 10-for-25 on twos and 3-for-16 from downtown.

After Osetkowski went on an early second-half tear, Michigan answered with an 11-0 run spearheaded by Charles Matthews and Moe Wagner. Shortly after the run ended, however, Wagner rolled his right ankle over Bamba's foot, and he was quickly ruled out of the game. Seemingly given new life, Texas went on a 7-0 run of their own to close the gap to seven.

As he had all night, MAAR came up big, though perhaps a tad lucky; his banked-in three-pointer ended the run and all but ended the game with 4:53 remaining. He'd add one more tough bucket and a free throw to keep UT at bay, finishing with team-highs of 17 points and ten rebounds.

After beating UCLA and Texas in back-to-back games, Michigan gets a few tune-up contests before conference play starts in January, beginning with a matchup against Detroit on Saturday. While the schedule would allow Michigan to avoid rushing Moe Wagner back, his injury thankfully doesn't sound too serious anyway:

Jon Teske played 18 minutes because of Wagner's injury and early foul; he was a defensive presence, blocking two shots and adding a steal. While he failed to make an offensive impact, he covered much of the gap with his defense, continuing an encouraging run of play for him. Zavier Simpson had another solid performance, getting into the lane for a couple tough buckets, dishing out four assists, and once again earning John Beilein's trust to handle crunch-time minutes. Jordan Poole only played eight minutes but made both of his shots, a tough transition bucket and a step-in jumper off a nifty move at the arc.

So long as Wagner's injury doesn't have a significant impact, this was a huge night for the boys in blue. The victory has already moved Michigan up five spots on KenPom, and for now they should be on the right side of the bubble in early tourney projections. Even if Texas collapses without leading scorer Andrew Jones, which looks like a distinct possibility, the Wolverines just came through a tough five-game stretch with a 3-2 record, strengthened their resumé, and got a better idea of the rotation going forward. Now Beilein gets a few games to tinker before Big Ten play resumes.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 69, Indiana 55

Michigan 69, Indiana 55 Comment Count

Ace December 2nd, 2017 at 3:42 PM


Jordan Poole saw an opportunity and seized it. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Fifteen seconds into today's game, Michigan star wing Charles Matthews picked up a foul on a rebound attempt. John Beilein sent him to the bench. It was an inauspicious start to Big Ten play against an Indiana squad coming off a tough battle with top-ranked Duke.

Jordan Poole, who'd barely played significant minutes, entered for Matthews. Despite playing untested freshman in place of the team's leading scorer and best defender, Michigan didn't miss a beat, jumping out to a 14-2 lead with four three-pointers. Poole drained two of those triples and didn't stop there; he'd make three more on his way to a team-high 19 points, looking like a major difference-maker for a team that could use an outside shooting boost.

"Today I was getting a lot of open looks," said Poole. "[The coaches] constantly stress 'shoot the open shots,' and not hesitate and try to make a play. If I'm open, shoot it. You don't need to tell me twice."

With Poole leading the charge, Michigan controlled the game from start to finish. The team moved the ball beautifully, tallying 16 assists on 26 field goals and creating open look after open look with crisp passing. A disjointed IU offense couldn't keep up. Only Juwan Morgan (24 points, 9/14 FG) scored in double figures, the Hoosiers had more turnovers (11) than assists (7), and they only got off seven three-point attempts.

"DeAndre Haynes did a great job with the scouting report and our kids lived that scouting report," said John Beilien. "They did a great job."


Eli Brooks did a great job moving the ball around. [Campredon]

While the expected titanic post matchup between Moe Wagner and De'Ron Davis didn't quite come to fruition, Wagner fared better among the centers, scoring 13 points and adding seven rebounds, three assits, three blocks, and a steal. Davis, limited by fouls, scored only four, but Morgan proved a much harder guard for Wagner in the post.

Morgan couldn't keep IU in it on his own, however, while Michigan gave Poole and Wagner plenty of support. Eli Brooks played 22 strong minutes, dishing out six assists to no turnovers, going 2-for-4 from the field, and swiping a couple steals. While John Beilein wouldn't go so far in the postgame press conference, Brooks looks to have taken control of the point guard job with Zavier Simpson as his primary backup; Jaaron Simmons didn't see the floor this afternoon.

Another freshman, Isaiah Livers, contributed four points in ten minutes with Duncan Robinson in foul trouble. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Jon Teske had six points, three boards, and a steal. Only Robinson, who went 2-for-10 from the field, seriously struggled among the rotation players, and his were uncharacteristic misses on good looks.

After going with a disjointed 11-man rotation in the loss to North Carolina, tightening things up a bit—and featuring Poole as the primary backup wing—paid serious dividends today. There's still plenty of work to do; as Beilein noted, Michigan's had only one practice in the last couple weeks that wasn't entirely geared towards preparing for the next game.

There will be more lineup combinations (yes, he mentioned playing two bigs); Simmons will still get a shot to crack the rotation. Today still gave a good idea of what this team will look like in a couple months, and the freshman class of Poole, Brooks, and Livers is going to be a big part of it.

"I love these three freshmen," Beilein said. "I love them."

"They still make me angry every day," he added with a laugh.

He's still John Beilein, after all.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 87, UC Riverside 42

Michigan 87, UC Riverside 42 Comment Count

Ace November 26th, 2017 at 6:18 PM


Moe Wagner reacts to Jordan Poole's block/three sequence. [James Coller/MGoBlog]

Things you need to know from this game:

Wilton Speight announced he'll grad-transfer during the second half.

Four Wolverines scored in double figures, led by Moe Wagner with 21.

Eli Brooks finally got some production out of the point guard position, scoring eight on 3-for-6 shooting (2-for-4 3P) and handing out a couple assists in 18 minutes.

Charles Matthews dished out 12 assists. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, meanwhile, had his sixth straight game with at least four assists (five) and recorded only his second turnover of the season.

There was a 7:30 stretch in the first half during which UC Riverside went 0-for-9 from the field with seven turnovers.

Jordan Poole did this:

That's worth another look:

Oh, twist my arm, here's another reaction shot:


[Coller]

Further takeaways from this game will come in a more comprehensive Basketbullets on Tuesday.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 102, Chaminade 64

Michigan 102, Chaminade 64 Comment Count

Ace November 21st, 2017 at 10:18 PM

Glorified scrimmage
Would be the game they get hot
Hot damn, Charles Matthews

Fine, some bullets:

But for real, of all the games for three-point luck to even out. Michigan went a scorching 15-for-28 from beyond the arc. Chaminade canned a couple fluky ones and still only made 5-of-22.

Anyway, Charles Matthews! Even against D-II competition, this is a quite a stat line for a guy who also had a huge game last night: 22 points on perfect 8-for-8 shooting, ten rebounds, four assists, two turnovers, three blocks, and two steals in 29 minutes. Matthews played with every bit of effort and skill that stat line suggests.

Duncan Robinson found his shot. 14 points, 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, unfair in transition. A nice bounceback after a rough go against LSU.

Eli Brooks got his first start. Brooks had a nice start with a catch-and-shoot three and a slick pick-and-roll assist, but his effectiveness didn't last; he went 1-for-4 with one assist and a turnover the rest of the way. Jaaron Simmons, the next point guard to get in, nearly put up an 11-minute trillion. Zavier Simpson was the best PG tonight but didn't exactly stand out.

Jordan Poole got a longer look. Poole looked good in his first extended action, doing what he's supposed to do: get buckets. He needed only nine minutes to score ten points, drilling two of his three shots from downtown. While he's got a long way to go on defense, he should cut into Ibi Watson's minutes if he keeps hitting jumpers.

Rahk, sharing. For the fourth straight game, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored double-digit points with at least four assists. He's turned the ball over just once in that four-game span, an especially remarkable feat considering how often he drives into traffic. That's a big development with the point guards struggling to produce.

Rebounding: not great. Outside of Matthews, the team didn't rebound well. Michigan had only three offensive boards (Jon Teske grabbed the third) before Austin Davis had three on his lonesome in the late going. Chaminade, meanwhile, pulled down 16 of their 39 missed shots (41%). After doing well on the boards early on, this didn't look like nearly as good an effort from Moe Wagner on first viewing.

Tomorrow's game. Michigan faces VCU, 83-69 winners over Cal, at 5 pm EST on ESPN 2. KenPom has the good guys as five-point favorites.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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LSU 77, Michigan 75

LSU 77, Michigan 75 Comment Count

Ace November 21st, 2017 at 2:35 AM


via Alejandro Zuniga

I'm starting this a little before 2 am, so this won't be a standard recap. Some scattered thoughts following a loss that may have a big impact on this season in several directions.

The schedule impact is rough. Michigan's tourney fortunes may end up tied closely to the fate of this LSU team if the Wolverines end up on the bubble. While LSU has looked good early on, they were terrible last year—this could wind up being a bad loss on the resume, though I suspect Tremont Waters is going to get the Tigers respectable soon. The bigger deal is having an opportunity to play Notre Dame replaced by a date with D-II Chaminade, a no-win game for Michigan. Instead of getting three quality opponents out of this week, they only get two.

The point guard situation is the team's biggest problem. Let's get the bad out of the way. While there were some flashes of talent from Eli Brooks, who canned a pull-up three and had a nifty drop-off assist to Moe Wagner, the point guard position is still in major flux. John Beilein put his trust in Brooks down the stretch; Brooks missed a couple crucial shots, got pickpocketed by Waters, and had a difficult time staying in front of Waters down the stretch.

Those are growing pains you expect from a freshman point guard. The problem is that Brooks is being relied upon in the first place. Zavier Simpson almost wasn't playable because of his passivity on offense—he didn't attempt a shot in ten minutes—and he had his troubles with Waters as well, picking up four fouls. Jaaron Simmons went 0/1 with an assist and a turnover in 15 minutes. Even if this team is going to run through the wings, which it sure looks like will be the case, they need way more production from this spot.

Duncan Robinson's defense is one, too. LSU mimicked Oregon's game plan from last year's tournament, isolating Robinson when they got the opportunity and attacking him off the dribble. To little surprise, this worked.

Far more concerning was Robinson's offense, which was all but nonexistent. He was unable to shake lanky 6'5" wing Brandon Sampson, scoring his only points on a transition three and getting nothing in the halfcourt. Michigan will be in trouble against bigger, more athletic teams if they're unable to find ways to free up Robinson for shots.

Charles Matthews looks like a star. There was still plenty of good in this game, none better than the performance of Matthews: a game-high 28 points (9/15 2-pt, 1/2 3-pt, 7/10 FT) with six offensive rebounds and two assists while playing his usual strong defense.

Michigan's offense was at its best when it ran through Matthews, especially when he paired with Moe Wagner (24 points, 6/7 2-pt, 3/7 3-pt) as a screener. The most effective play was the side pick-and-pop, which opened driving lanes for Matthews to sky for short jumpers and easy midrange opportunities for Wagner. It took the team most of the first half to find this offense, however, and they strayed from it at times in the second; I'm excited about the future of a team that makes this their identity.

Other quick notes:

  • While Jon Teske didn't make a huge splash tonight, he still looked good out there. He batted another offensive rebound back out for a reset, engulfed a shot off a drive, and dished out a pretty assist. His post passing looks like it could be special—it's already quite good.
  • This was a rough game for Ibi Watson, who chucked four shots, making only one, in eight minutes and giving up some easy blow-bys on defense. He's going to lose his minutes to Brooks and perhaps Jordan Poole, who got in for a minute tonight, if things don't get better fast. He may be a good player in practice but it's not translating to games.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had an uneven performance. He couldn't find the mark from the outside, missing all five of his threes. He was great at getting to the basket, however, and made 4-of-8 twos, including some tough baskets to keep it close down the stretch. MAAR was often the only Wolverine willing to assert himself, especially when Wagner and/or Matthews weren't on the floor.
  • Isaiah Livers had a putback and a steal in 12 minutes. I noticed some trouble on defense and on the boards, though, and that type of stuff is going to hold him back from getting more minutes unless Robinson goes into an extended slump.
  • Tomorrow's game against Chaminade tips off at 8 pm EST on ESPN 2.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47

Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47 Comment Count

Ace November 16th, 2017 at 9:46 PM


Big Nasty. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

In an effort to speak a new identity into existence this offseason, Michigan's coaches and players started calling sophomore Jon Teske "Big Nasty." They hoped that would replace "Big Sleep," the moniker Teske picked up during a quiet freshman year as a little-used third-stringer.

Now Moe Wagner's primary backup, Teske was every bit Big Nasty tonight against Southern Miss, tallying his first career double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds. The seven-footer made all five shots from the field and grabbed five offensive boards. He did all this in only 15 minutes, earning a standing ovation when he exited in the game's waning moments.

Without Teske's breakout performance, this could've been another uncomfortably close game against an overmatched opponent. After Michigan jumped out to an early 9-2 lead at the first TV timeout, USM fought their way back as—stop me if you've heard this before—Michigan couldn't can open looks while their opponents made an unsustainable percentage of their three-point shots. Fittingly, an off-balance pull-up triple by Tyree Griffin fell at the buzzer to give the Golden Eagles a one-point halftime lead.

Michigan still looked disjointed to open the second half, trading the lead with USM until Teske checked in with 13 minutes to play. He was a much-needed spark. His defensive rebound led to a quick Duncan Robinson three in transition to give M the lead for good; he'd cap a 13-0 run with a putback and a smooth baseline jumper. USM didn't threaten again.


MAAR finished with a team-high 14 points. [Campredon]

It was the third straight game that Michigan couldn't dominate a body-bag opponent. Their expected stars again underwhelmed. Wagner posted a quiet 12 points and six rebounds. Charles Matthews went scoreless in the first half, finished with six points and two turnovers, and looked unsure of when to assert himself. Point guards Zavier Simpson and Jaaron Simmons didn't make a shot from the field, though Simmons at least dealt out five assists, including a slick cross-court feed for a Matthews corner three that blew the game wide open.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was a notable exception, grinding out ten first-half points when the offense was struggling. He'd finish with a team-high 14 points and gave out five assists; his ability to make something out of nothing in late-clock situations proved critical.

Michigan will face a significant step up in competition with three games in three days at next week's Maui Invitational, starting with LSU on Monday. While the early portion of the season hasn't been pretty, there's reason to believe a simple correction in shooting luck, much like what occurred midway through last season, will have this team looking dangerous. Through three games, the Wolverines are making 32.9% of their three-pointers, even though their looks have been of decent quality; opponents are hitting a scorching 48.1%, even though the perimeter defense hasn't looked nearly that awful.

There are still problem areas. Michigan needs more production from their point guards, and Matthews looks alarmingly gun-shy for a player who's supposed to be one of the team's top two scorers. Teske's emergence, however, answers at least one big question, and could even give John Beilein some added lineup flexibility down the road.

Stick around, Big Nasty.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Michigan 72, Central Michigan 65

Michigan 72, Central Michigan 65 Comment Count

Ace November 13th, 2017 at 10:04 PM


Bench Mob, activate. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

It's me again, the guy who tells you not to pay too close attention to the final score.

This time we're talking basketball. Michigan went to 2-0 this evening with a win over Central Michigan that never felt particularly alarming nor particularly comfortable. While it wasn't pretty in the moment, however, there were some promising signs for the future of this young team.

Much like North Florida in the first game, the Chippewas came out in a zone defense that kept the Wolverine attack stagnant. They also started off hot from beyond the arc, making five of their first ten three-point attempts to jump out to an early 22-14 lead.

Then the Wolverines got some good things going. Zavier Simpson calmly sunk a three over the zone, then worked his way to the hoop for a layup. Moe Wagner took ownership of the defensive boards. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman salvaged a possession with a hard driving layup to beat the shot clock. After an 0-for-4 start, Duncan Robinson drilled a triple. Jon "Big Nasty" Teske checked in for Wagner, blocked two shots, and got hit with a terrible foul call on a third. Teske combined with Simpson for a textbook shutdown of a pick-and-roll that led to an Abdur-Rahman three that gave Michigan a one-point halftime edge.


MAAR kept a sometimes-stagnant offense going with some tough shots. [Campredon]

Frustratingly, Michigan couldn't hit enough of their open looks to really pull away in the second half; on the game, M would go 10-for-34 on three-pointers. Instead, they had to grind out a win with defense and timely transition buckets. That began early in the stanza, as blocked or altered shots by Matthews and Wagner begat five fast break points for Abdur-Rahkman, capping a 15-3 Michigan run.

The offense had its moments breaking down the CMU zone. While Matthews didn't look confident in his three-point shot, he was able to get into the lane and get the defense moving to set up a couple baskets, then showed off his athleticism with a hanging jumper in the lane. Jaaron Simmons, who was mostly quiet as the backup point guard, got a three-pointer to go in rhythm after some nice ball movement. Abdur-Rahkman, who led the team with 17 points, saved another late-clock situation with a slick step-through scoop that rattled home. With some late fast break points helping out, Michigan eventually clawed to 1.13 points per possession.

But it was the defense, which held CMU to 1.01 PPP despite 10-for-24 three-point shooting, that stood out for Michigan. Simpson's constantly pesky approach, which resulted in two steals and multiple other knockaways tonight, will make him hard to unseat as the starting point guard if he continues making open threes (2-for-3 tonight). Matthews generated some points all on his own by jumping a passing lane and going coast-to-coast for a dunk. Wagner looked improved as both a rebounder and defender—he's noticeably stronger and putting in a greater effort on that end. Teske made some impressive plays on the boards and looked surprisingly fluid; less surprisingly, he proved difficult to shoot over.

While it's not safe to assume that Michigan will be as good of a shooting team as last year, they'll certainly be better than they were tonight; Robinson and Wagner won't combine for too many 3-for-13 nights from downtown. Meanwhile, there are some early signs that Wagner and the rest of the squad have improved in the expected problem areas of defense and rebounding. That's a tradeoff I think John Beilein will take this early in the year.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

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Oregon 69, Michigan 68

Oregon 69, Michigan 68 Comment Count

Ace March 23rd, 2017 at 10:16 PM


The final shots. [Joseph Dressler]

In the movie script, that shot goes in.

Michigan hadn't played their best game—far from it—but Derrick Walton nevertheless had a clean look to send the Wolverines to the Elite Eight and keep this magical run going. With time about to expire, Walton cleared out space, rose, and fired. His shot caught iron. Walton clutched his head, likely feeling the same combination of surprise and dismay as the rest of us.

"I had a good look at the basket and it just didn't drop for me," Walton said.

This is not a movie script.

In a disjointed game, Michigan's seniors fought valiantly to the finish. Walton shook off a hard fall on his elbow in the first half to finish with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, five rebounds, and eight assists. Zak Irvin poured in 19, going 8-of-14 from the field, pulled down eight rebounds, and played lockdown defense on Oregon star Dillon Brooks, who needed 13 shots to score 12 points. In the last five minutes, the two combined for three go-ahead shots, and Walton added a nasty fadeaway jumper to give the Wolverines a three-point lead with 2:02 left.

They could not get a fourth. Instead, Oregon's two best players on the night made the plays in winning time. Jordan Bell, a force in the paint all evening, put back a missed free throw to get the Ducks within one after Walton's jumper. After Walton couldn't get a tough layup to fall, Tyler Dorsey got a step on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and finished at the rim for what were ultimately the final points of the game.

Michigan would get two more shots to win. DJ Wilson's three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining was well off the mark. After Dylan Ennis missed another free throw with 15 seconds to play, Oregon surprisingly chose to give only one of their three remaining fouls to give, allowing Walton to get that final look. It fell short.

"I've seen him make that shot thousands of times, so I had confidence in him knocking it down," said Irvin. "It looked good from my angle. No one else on this team that we wanted taking that shot. He's been on a run and he's such a great player. I'm proud of him."


Jordan Bell made play after play in the paint. [Dressler]

From the start, this didn't feel like Michigan's night. The Wolverines went just 11-for-28 in the first half, and while they only trailed by two at the break, it could've easily been worse. Wilson sat for much of the half with foul trouble. Oregon's guards repeatedly blew by Michigan defenders. Dorsey sunk three of his four first-half three-point attempts. Walton grinded out 11 points and seven assists by halftime, keeping his team within striking distance. With Wilson set to get back on the court, the hope was Michigan could find their groove.

It never quite clicked. Moe Wagner barely played in the second half and finished the night with only seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. Abdur-Rahkman all but disappeared, tallying more turnovers (3) than points (2). Duncan Robinson's eight points weren't enough to offset his defensive shortcomings. While Wilson hit four three-pointers, he didn't get a bucket inside the arc as Bell dominated the paint; his missed second-half layup will stay with him for a while.

While tonight wasn't their night, this team can hold their heads high. Walton and Irvin battled to the bitter end, and this season will ultimately be remembered far more for the remarkable highs of the last month than tonight's low. When it mattered the most, this team galvanized around its leaders, and the most difficult part of tonight is knowing we won't get to see them all play together again.

"It's the tightest bunch I've been around in all my years of playing basketball," said Walton. "Just a very selfless group. I had the joy of being a part of it and being one of the leaders. Like I said, I wish we could have more games to play together because I think a couple minutes throughout the game we didn't show the type of team we were becoming and overall just thank them for allowing me to be part of such a great team."

"We're very close-knit, playing our best basketball and didn't want the season to end," said Irvin. "This team had a lot of great memories. We battled through adversity and just a team that I will always remember."

He's not alone.

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