Michigan stuns another
INDIANAPOLIS — Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send Michigan past Louisville 73-69 and into the Sweet 16.
The seventh-seeded Wolverines (26-11) have won seven games in a row, including six consecutive after a frightening plane accident before the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan also earned a ticket to regional semifinals for the first time since 2014.
INDIANAPOLIS — Moe Wagner gritted his teeth, pumped his fist and stuck out his mouthpiece to the crowd’s delight Sunday.
A few minutes later, Wagner took a couple more bows — first on the baseline in front of Michigan’s bench, then with the rest of his teammates near midcourt.
Suddenly, the often overlooked 6-foot-11 forward, from Germany, was the well-deserved center of attention.
Wagner scored a career-high 26 points, made the basket that spurred Michigan’s furious second-half rally and capped the day with a three-pointer to give the Wolverines the lead for good as they knocked off second-seeded Louisville 73-69 to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.
“He’s got the mentality where he wants to make the play,” said Derrick Walton Jr., who drove in for Michigan’s final basket with 29 seconds left. “He just makes the right play at all times. He has the calls to make the big plays, so we feed off him because he’s not afraid of anything.”
Trailing 45-36 with 16:09 to play, Wagner made a layup that started a 17-6 run to give Michigan its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. When Wagner knocked down a three-pointer with 6:39 to go to break a 55-55 tie, the Wolverines never trailed again.
Afterward, Michigan’s players celebrated by jumping around near midcourt, then walking next to the pep band and pumping their fists toward yellow-clad fans as the school fight song boomed.
Once inside the locker room, Coach John Beilein playfully squirted his players with a water gun.
“A little damp right now,” Beilein said as the postgame news conference began. “But our guys, we started a tradition of taking a shower, I guess, without going into the shower after good wins. It’s not stopping.”
At least not in Indianapolis.
Louisville (25-9) came into Sunday as a small favorite.
Coach Rick Pitino was 3-1 in head-to-head matchups with Beilein and the Cardinals had made it to the Sweet 16 in each of their previous four NCAA appearances.
Donovan Mitchell finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Louisville. Deng Adel had 16 points and Mangok Mathiang added 13.
Not much went as expected, though.
Louisville’s pressure defense forced only six Michigan turnovers and the Cardinals wound up 5 of 20 on three-pointers.
KANSAS 90, MICHIGAN STATE 70
TULSA — Josh Jackson scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half to help Kansas pull away late and reach the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive year with a victory over Michigan State.
Frank Mason III added 20 points for the No. 1-seed Jayhawks (30-4), who have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in nine of Coach Bill Self’s 14 seasons.
Devonte’ Graham added 18 points and Landen Lucas had 10 for the Jayhawks, who shot 53.1 percent (34 of 64) in the victory.
Miles Bridges scored 22 points to lead Michigan State (20-15) despite leaving briefly in the first half with an injury. Nick Ward also finished in double figures with 13 points and Joshua Langford had 10 for the Spartans.
OREGON 75, RHODE ISLAND 72
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tyler Dorsey hit a contested go-ahead three-pointer from the top of the arc with 38.4 seconds to play, E.C. Matthews airballed a long three in the waning moments trying to force overtime, and third-seeded Oregon rallied in the second half to beat upstart No. 11 Rhode Island and reach the Midwest Regional.
Dorsey also tied the game with a three with 1:45 remaining on the way to 27 points before teammate Dillon Brooks took a charge on the other end for Oregon (31-5).
With Oregon’s season on the brink of an early NCAA Tournament exit, Brooks found his shooting stroke as he often does and scored 19 points despite a 7-for-20 shooting day. Dorsey made 9 of 10 shots with four three-pointers.
Rhode Island nearly scrapped and hustled its way into the next round, with Stanford Robinson matching his career high of 21 points as the Rams (25-10) had their nine-game winning streak snapped to end the season.
Michigan forward Moe Wagner (left) drives on Louisville forward Ray Spalding (right) in the second half of the Wolverines’ 73-69 victory over the second-seeded Cardinals in the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis, Ind. Wagner had a team-high 26 points.