When you are feeling it, things tend to go well. The hottest team coming into The Big Dance doesn’t cool down as #7 Michigan hits 11 of its 16 3-pointers in the second half to defeat #10 Oklahoma State 92-91 in the first round matchup. The Wolverines weren’t the only ones shooting well as the Cowboys shot 54.7% and Jawun Evans scored 23 to go along with his 12 assists and seven rebounds. Five of Evans’ points came in the final seven seconds to try to put the pokes over the top but Michigan’s patient and steady free-throw shooting prevailed.
Turnovers and bad fouls cost Oklahoma State as it turned the ball over 10 times while only forcing Michigan into four turnovers, the fewest OSU has forced all season.
The Cowboys only committed 15 fouls before the final minute of the game, but some were very costly like Mitchell Solomon’s at the end of the first half. OSU was up 40-38 with four seconds left on the clock and one second on the shot clock when Solomon fouled Michigan’s best free-throw shooter, Derrick Walton Jr., while shooting a 3. Walton would nail all three shots in route to his game-high 26 and that three point swing gave the Wolverines momentum going into the half.
Now, saying one foul was the difference in the game is a stretch; but before that the game was back and forth with the Cowboys leading by as much as seven until Michigan stormed back and took the lead back as one of 13 lead changes. OSU would continue to take the lead back with its 16 offensive rebounds translating into 21 second-chance points.
The bombardment of 3’s came mid-way through the second half when Michigan took the lead at the 10:12 mark and would hit four shots from downtown in the next 3 and a half minutes to go up 76-68 and never trail again.
This game ends the careers of seniors Phil Forte III and Leyton Hammonds, who both scored in double digits in their final game.