Michigan coach talks about his team's performance in Saturday's 76-73 overtime win at Crisler Center. James Hawkins
Ann Arbor — Abysmal free-throw shooting. Poor outside shooting. A pair of 20-point scorers. Another sluggish start. A blown lead late in the second half.
Michigan overcame it all to escape with a 76-73 overtime win over a scuffling, short-handed Minnesota team Saturday at Crisler Center.
Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 17, including a tiebreaking three-point play with 3.8 seconds left in overtime, to lift No. 24 Michigan (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten), which finished 12-for-28 from the free-throw line and 8-for-32 on 3-pointers.
The 16 misses at the stripe — 15 coming after the first half — were a season high. It topped the previous mark of 14 misses in the overtime win over UCLA on Dec. 9.
“I never thought we’d talk about a win again after the way we shot foul shots, the way we settled in the first half and the energy that we saw out of some of our guys,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Thank goodness in the second half we were able to attack a little bit more. We still didn't make foul shots, but we found a way to win.”
After Michigan squandered a five-point lead in the final 28 seconds of regulation, Zavier Simpson (15 points) made a layup and 3-pointer — his first make after he missed his first seven attempts beyond the arc — to give Michigan a 70-66 lead with 2:50 left in overtime.
Minnesota (14-11, 3-9) battled back and tied it twice in the final two minutes, the last on a Davonte Fitzgerald layup to make it 73-all with 11 seconds left.
It set the stage for Abdur-Rahkman to redeem himself after missing two free throws late in the second half that would have sealed the victory.
And this time, he came through. Abdur-Rahkman took Minnesota’s Jamir Harris off the dribble and used a spin move to get free for the winning and-1 layup.
“I just looked up the floor, surveyed the floor and saw there was nobody underneath the basket, so I knew if I can get downhill there wouldn't be a help defender,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “Once (Harris) cut me off, I just thought I should probably spin and since there was nobody there and that's what I did.
“It definitely feels good. It was a hard-fought game and both teams were scrapping until the end to get the last shot.”
Minnesota's Nate Mason, who forced overtime after making a 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds left in regulation, was unable to force a second extra session as his deep 3 as time expired was off the mark.
Moritz Wagner finished with 16 points and 10 points and Charles Matthews added 13 points and 11 rebounds but shot 5-for-12 from the line for Michigan.
Freshman Isaiah Washington scored a season-high 26, Mason added 22 and Jordan Murphy 12 for Minnesota, which has lost five straight and was without injured sophomore guard Amir Coffey and suspended senior center Reggie Lynch.
“That one stings unfortunately,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “It just came down to we missed a shot, they made a big play. We didn't play great defense on that last one, but I can't fault our guys. They really battled.”
Following a rough first half in which Michigan trailed the entire time, the Wolverines used a 6-0 run to take their first lead, 38-37, with 16:15 remaining in the second half. Wagner hit a 3-pointer and split two free throws and Matthews snapped an 0-for-6 start with his first field goal on a baseline dunk.
The lead was short-lived as Minnesota quickly answered with a Mason floater to start a 13-2 spurt. The run featured three baskets apiece from Washington and Mason, who capped it with another runner to put the Gophers up, 50-40, with 11:15 left.
Minnesota held a seven-point advantage before Duncan Robinson (10 points) scored on a layup to spark a 14-2 run over the final six minutes. The Wolverines capped the flurry with six straight points on two free throws and a basket by Abdur-Rahkman and a dunk by Matthews to pull ahead, 63-58, with 28 seconds left.
But just when it seemed Michigan had the game in the bag, everything fell apart in the final 20 seconds.
Abdur-Rahkman missed two more free throws with 18 seconds left and Washington scored on a driving layup to cut the deficit to three. Then on the ensuing possession, Robinson was trapped near the sideline on an inbounds pass and was called for traveling with eight seconds remaining. The turnover led to Mason's 3-pointer that forced overtime and tested Michigan's resiliency.
“Banding together and getting that one was huge,” Robinson said. “The good teams win ugly games and, on top of that, learn from them. We got to come back tomorrow with a growth mindset and be able to take a lot away from this one.”