Recap: UM blows out Texas A&M, moves on to Elite 8

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News
Michigan guard Zavier Simpson (3) moves the ball past Texas A&M guard TJ Starks (2).

The result was never really in doubt.

Thanks to a suffocating defense and a barrage of 3-point shooting, Michigan advanced to the Elite 8 for the third time in six years with a 99-72 win over Texas A&M in Thursday night's Sweet 16 matchup in Los Angeles.

The Wolverines put on a show in the first half, going 10-for-16 from beyond the arc. They finished 14-for-24 for the night.

Zavier Simpson was a stud on both ends of the floor, leading the first half defensive charge that led Michigan to a 52-28 halftime lead. Simpson finished with 11 points and six steals.

After struggling through the first two tournament games, Moritz Wagner found himself, going for 21 and finding the kind of swag that powered him through the team's dominant February stretch.

The Aggies came out of halftime with a bounce in their step...on the offensive end. They just never put it together on defense.

At one point in the second half, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (24 points) and Charles Matthews (18) combined for 27 points during a span in which Michigan scored 29 as a team.

It couldn't have gone much better tonight, but it's time for the Wolverines to forget about it and shift their focus to Saturday, when they'll take on the winner of tonight's showdown between Gonzaga and Florida State.

It's Rahkman's turn

While the Aggies continue to play solid on the offensive end of the floor, the Wolverines continue to have an answer.

Charles Matthews handed that torch off to Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who scored six straight points to answer Texas A&M buckets.

With 7:11 remaining, Michigan is in control with a 79-57 lead.

Matthews answers for Michigan

Texas A&M continues to get good looks at the basket, hitting 3-pointers and getting some easy looks down low. They've come out and shot 67 percent in the second half. The problem? They still can't stop the Michigan offense, which is shooting 59 percent from the floor tonight.

Charles Matthews scored nine consecutive points for the Wolverines, and he's now got 14 on 6-for-8 shooting.

With 11:48 remaining, Michigan leads 73-48.

A&M pushes, Michigan pushes back

The Aggies started the half with back-to-back dunks, but on both occasions, Michigan answered on the other end. After the teams traded baskets on the half's first four possessions, Isaiah Livers stole the ball and got the Wolverines back out in transition. That's when Zavier Simpson found Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman for a long ball in the corner.

The Aggies started to press after their next bucket, but in doing so, they've picked up a couple of fouls.

With 16:16 left to play, Michigan leads 64-39.

A&M looks a little more crisp on offense out of the break, but they still don't have an answer for Michigan's hot-shooting. Trading baskets is not going to get it done.

Hot-shooting, defense lead Michigan to big 1st half lead

John Beilein couldn't have drawn up the first half any better.

Michigan shot the lights out and dominated on the defensive end, at one point stretching their lead to 29, and they head into halftime of their Sweet 16 matchup with Texas A&M leading 52-28.

The Wolverines are 10-for-16 from beyond the arc. They've got 15 points off of 10 Aggies turnovers and that's helped them to shoot 57 percent from the field.

Mo Wagner has 14 points, Duncan Robinson 10 and Zavier Simpson five points and four steals to lead the defensive attack.

A&M made the mistake of starting the game by shooting 3-pointers, which led them to start 3-for-11 from the floor. Now they've got to play catch-up.

Wolverines can't be stopped

Zavier Simpson hit from deep, grabbed his fourth steal of the night on the other end and then raced down the floor to finish at the rim. For good measure, Mo Wagner and Charles Matthews hit 3-pointers of their own and Michigan is absolutely crushing Texas A&M in the early going, 33-12, with 8:08 remaining in the first half.

Something that's been said all week about the Aggies is that if you get them down, they're going to have trouble coming back, as their 3-point shooting is not something that strikes fear in opponents.

Michigan cruising through first half

Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit from deep, and despite big dunk and a big block from the Aggies during the last few minutes, Michigan is still fully in control early on.

At the 12:07 mark of the first half, the Wolverines lead 19-6.

Ibi Watson added a 3-ball of his own, and Michigan is currently on a 7-0 run.

Texas A&M has showed the flashes of athleticism that had so many impressed coming into this game, but there hasn't been much substance between the few splashy plays. A&M is 3-for-11 from the field and playing fast, which plays right into Michigan's hands.

Wagner, Wolverines off to a hot start

Mo Wagner and the Michigan defense are cooking early on as they've gotten out to a 9-4 lead with 15:51 to play in the first half.

The German import has six early points and the defense has forced three turnovers.

The Wolverines got out on the break for the game's first basket when Zavier Simpson came up with the steal and found Mo Wagner, who got the ball to Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who got it back to the big man for an easy lay-in. After an 0-for-3 start from the floor from by the Aggies, Jordan Poole spotted Michigan an early five-point lead with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A&M finally got on the board on the next trip down the floor, but the Wolverines got another steal and another Wagner basket. He showed off his skillset on the next trip down the floor, going behind the back with the dribble and putting the ball in with a short left-handed hook.

Michigan, Texas A&M set for Sweet 16 battle

They have to play better, don't they?

Despite sluggish performances to start their first two games of the NCAA Tournament, Michigan is back in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season.

It took late-game heroics from Jordan Poole to set up this showdown with Texas A&M, but the Wolverines can't count on such things happening this time around. They'll need to step up their game against the Aggies.

All eyes are on Moritz Wagner, who just hasn't been himself in the first two games of the tournament. He's been passive at times, settling for jumpers, lacking the kind of aggressiveness that saw him getting by defenders off the dribble on his way to easy buckets for most of February.

Texas A&M brings size into the matchup, so while Wagner's play in the post will have to keep the Aggies honest, the Wolverines are also going to have to start knocking down shots from the outside. They shot just 31 percent and 27 percent against Montana and Houston, numbers that are going to have to change tonight for Michigan to have a chance.

Tip-off is at 7:37 on TBS. Stay here for in-game updates as the Wolverines try to reach the Elite 8 for the first time since 2014.


Michigan vs. Texas A&M

Tip-off: 7:37 Thursday, Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV/radio: TBS/950

Records: No. 3 seed Michigan 30-7; No. 7 seed Texas A&M is 22-12

Up next: Winner advances to Elite Eight on Saturday vs. the Gonzaga-Florida State winner.


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