Blog: Michigan hangs on, advances to first round

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News
Michigan's Zak Irvin passes under pressure from Tulsa in the first half.

Michigan opens NCAA Tournament play Wednesday night at 9:10 p.m. against Tulsa in Dayton, Ohio. Follow the action with live updates throughout the game by Geoff Robinson of The Detroit News.

Wolverines hang on...barely

Pat Birt probably wasn't who Tulsa wanted taking the game's biggest shot, but that's what Michigan forced on the defensive end. Birt (0-for-5) missed and Derrick Walton narrowly avoided turning the ball over before being fouled. He knocked down both with 27 seconds remaining, and the Wolverines hung on for a 67-62 win over the Golden Hurricane at the First Four in Dayton.

Moe Wagner was a delight, contributing in every facet of the game. Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin weren't at their best tonight, but they made big shots whenever Tulsa threatened to go on a run. They finished with 16 points apiece.

The Wolverines won despite shooting just 24 percent from beyond the arc, not something that usually breeds success for a John Beilein team.

The Golden Hurricane were just 3-for-15 from 3-point range. Shaquille Harrison led the way with 23 points.

Michigan plays Notre Dame Friday in Brooklyn.

Irvin with a clutch shot

Zak Irvin just went cold-blooded with his team down by one, drilling a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left to play to give the Wolverines a 62-60 lead. Tulsa has called timeout with 41 seconds remaining.

The Michigan defense stepped up out of Tulsa's last timeout to force a shot clock violation. On the next possession, it was Moe Wagner who was the beneficiary of a loose ball under the rim. He dunked it for a three-point Michigan lead. The Golden Hurricane answered with a James Woodard layup, and after an empty Michigan possession, Shaquille Harrison got a bunny of his own to give Tulsa the 60-59 lead.

Wolverines grab narrow lead

The teams traded baskets and Derrick Walton made a great defensive play to get his team out in transition. That's where Zak Irvin found Duncan Robinson for a fast break layup and Michigan now leads, 57-56, with 2:39 left to play.

This one's coming down to it

D'Andre Wright was the benefactor of an extra possession for Tulsa, who now leads, 54-53, with 4:17 left to play in Dayton.

The Wolverines are locked in a back-and-forth battle with the Golden Hurricane. After two free throws from Rahkman, it had looked like Michigan was creating separation with its six-point lead. Not so fast. Tulsa cut it to one at 53-52 as the Wolverine offense continues to be stagnant on most of its possessions.

Wolverines looking to establish late momentum

It took 11 minutes, but Duncan Robinson finally hit Michigan's first 3-pointer of the second half. Zak Irvin fed off that with a pull up jumper and the Wolverines mounted a mini-run heading into the TV timeout. With 7:38 remaining, they lead, 49-45. Points have been at a premium tonight. It is a true slobber-knocker. The only things saving Michigan right now is that Tulsa has hit prolonged stretches of its own where it can't buy a basket and is just 3-for-13 from beyond the arc tonight.

Rahkaman has 12 and Irvin has 11 to pack the Wolverines.

The ship isn't sinking...but the waves sure are choppy

Derrick Walton Jr. had himself a nice first half, but after picking up his third foul early in the second half and finding himself on the bench, the Michigan offense has struggled.

Tulsa took its first lead since midway through the first half on a layup from Marquel Curtin. Rahkman answered with a few more drives to the bucket to get his team the lead back, and that's pretty much been the only offense for Michigan since halftime.

Shaquielle Harrison tied things back up with a drive to the basket, and it's 40-40 with 11:27 to play.

Michigan needs to pick it up on defense.

This Wolverines time can go entire halves and not pick up four fouls. However, Tulsa is forcing the issue, and the Wolverines are having trouble handling their attack. Just five minutes into the half, Tulsa has wiped out Michigan's eight-point halftime lead, tying the game at 36-36. That's 16 second half points in just over four minutes for a Golden Hurricane team that scored 20 points in the first half.

The teams opened up the second half by trading buckets before Rashad Smith knocked in Tulsa's first 3-pointer since the first two minutes of the game. The Golden Hurricane have gotten big baskets inside from Smith, Brandon Swannegan and Shaquille Harrison. Harrison now has 12 for Tulsa.

Zak Irvin has hit a couple jumpers for Michigan, and Muhammed Abdur-Rahkman has gone to the hole with success for a couple easy buckets of his own. Where the Wolverines are struggling right now is on the defensive end.

Michigan comes back to take lead into the break

The Wolverines finally found something, outscoring Tulsa 19-4 over the final six minutes of the half, including putting together an 11-0 run after getting into the lane and getting buckets at the basket. They'll take a 28-20 lead into the half after Derrick Walton stepped up to score eight late first half points. He finished the half with 10.

Michigan was miserable from beyond the arc in the first half, and a 10-minute stretch in the half was some of the worst basketball they've played this season. Luckily, they've got freshman Mo Wagner, who contributed in quite a few ways. Wagner finished the first half with two points, five rebounds, three blocks and a steal that led to a bucket. He's been a real treat to watch.

Another reason the Wolverines are in the position they're in is that Tulsa caught the bad shooting bug. For the half, the Golden Hurricane shot 36 percent, while Michigan came in at 34. The Wolverines are an astonishing 4-for-18 from 3-point range.

Wolverines in a funk

Michigan just can't find a rhythm right now. Tulsa went on an 8-0 "run" as the Wolverines missed nine consecutive shots. Mercifully, the drought came to an end when Zak Irvin hit the team's second 3-pointer from the wing. Still, Michigan is shooting just 24 percent through the game's first 12 minutes, including going just 2-for-13 from beyond the arc.

The Golden Hurricane have hit a cold stretch of their own, and despite its struggles, Michigan is just down 16-14 with six minutes left to play in the first half.

Cold-shooting takes over in Dayton

Well, there's been exactly two buckets since the last timeout. Both of the came from the Golden Hurricane. The offenses started to struggle big time, and Michigan is 1 for its last 7 from the field. Tulsa went on an 0-for-6 stretch before a Shaquille Harrison basket.

One good turn deserves another

The Golden Hurricane answered a Duncan Robinson 3-pointer with back-to-back 3s from James Woodard, both of which were highly contested shots. Things have settled down and Michigan leads, 9-8, at the first TV timeout. The Wolverines took some bad shots after Robinson's opening 3, but they're starting to get things going toward the basket over the last two minutes.

Robinson got things started when he tickled the twine with a wide open 3-pointer from the corner on a nice find by Zak Irvin. Irvin drove the lane, made the defense collapse, and found Robinson standing all by his lonesome. That's not a recipe for success for Tulsa, but it's exactly the type of offense the Wolverines need to feature: Use the paint to set up the outside shots.

Tip pushed back five minutes

Nothing really to see here. Tournament games following another game rarely, if ever, start at their scheduled tip-time. The official time set for Michigan and Tulsa is now 9:15 p.m.

Michigan poised to start postseason on a high note

The Wolverines snuck into the NCAA Tournament as one of the last at-large teams. That doesn't seem like something to get to excited about, but as much as this teams been through this season, it's quite the accomplishment. The matchup they've been given also appears to be a blessing.

Tulsa (20-11) wasn't on anybody's radar to make it into the field of 68 after getting blown out in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals by a mediocre Memphis team. Somehow, someway, they're in. And while anything can happen in March, it appears to be a very favorable matchup for John Beilein and Co. as the Golden Hurricane don't feature anything that resembles Michigan's kryptonite: a presence inside the paint.

Overconfidence could be the young Wolverines' biggest issue tonight. They're a team that doesn't have a bad loss all season and there's a lot of hype over a possible Friday night showdown with Notre Dame. If Michigan gets the ball to the rim and sets up open looks from beyond the arc, they should have no problem advancing. But beware: madness always pops its head up when you least expect it.