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Michigan fails to hold late lead, drops first game of Maui Invitational to LSU

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Michigan lost a game it had until the the closing seconds, and this one hurts in more than one way.

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Michigan at LSU Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where LSU allowed Michigan to hang around, it looked like Michigan had it all wrapped up when they held an eight-point lead in the closing minutes of the finale on the opening night of the Maui Invitational.

Then, the lack of experience for Michigan appeared, and you couldn't miss it.

A pair of late turnovers and missed opportunities to end the game cost Michigan (3-1) a win, dropping its first game of the season in heartbreaking fashion to LSU (3-0) by a final score of 77-75.

The game itself, was a back-and-fourth battle, but Michigan’s slow start caught up to them in the end.

The Tigers started the game with a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers, before Michigan guard Charles Matthews hit a corner triple to make the score 8-5 in favor of LSU.

That shot appeared to give Matthews confidence, making a pair of back-to-back contested jump shots to follow, but LSU remained in the lead at 13-9 with just over 11 minutes left in the opening half.

Michigan would get a big triple from Moritz Wagner to cut the deficit to 22-18, but LSU would respond with a Brandon Sampson bucket to hold a 6-point lead late in the opening 20.

Michigan would finish the half making four of its last five shots, evening the score up at 29 all heading into the locker room.

The Wolverines shot 41 percent (12-for-29) from the field and just 27 percent (3-for-11) from deep compared to LSU’s 51 percent (12-for-22) and 50 percent (4-for-8) from deep, but the Tigers 11 turnovers held Michigan in the game.

Wagner and Matthews led Michigan with nine points at the break.

To start the half, Waters and Sampson had a pair of electrifying plays to help the Tigers jump out to a 42-37 lead with 15:27 remaining.

Michigan found offense through Wagner, but failed to follow up by stopping LSU on defense, trading buckets to the 11:33 mark, trailing 49-44.

Then, Duncan Robinson made his presence felt.

Following a Abdur-Rahkman jumper to pull Michigan within one, Robinson drilled a triple from the corner to give the Wolverines their first lead of the night, 55-53 with 8:42 remaining.

Wagner followed with another triple, putting Michigan on a 10-0 run to take a 58-53 lead with 7:49 to go.

LSU would comeback, with authority.

Mays dunked it down off a Rachel steal, giving LSU the 76-74 lead with 1:08 to go.

Matthews missed a huge free throw down the stretch that could've tied the game, and Michigan couldn’t recover.

Matthews finished with a game-high 28 points (10-for-17) but his missed free throw in the closing seconds essentially cost Michigan a potential shot at overtime.

Wagner finished with 24 points and seven rebounds, Abdur-Rahkman had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, respectively.

As a team, Michigan shot 46 percent from the field and just 26 percent (6-for-23) from deep. LSU shot 59 percent on the night and 41 percent (7-for-17) from 3-point distance.

Michigan had just two second half turnovers, but one allowed LSU to take the lead off the hands of Brooks.

The loss sends Michigan to the losers side of the bracket, where they will play Division II Chaminade on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. A win/loss will not count towards Michigan’s RPI.

LSU, being the winner, will take on No. 13 Notre Dame at 10:30 p.m. later that night.

Game notes

  • Before the back-to-back Robinson/Wagner 3-pointers in the second half to give Michigan the lead, they were 3-for-14 as a team.
  • In the closing moments of the game, it was neither Zavier Simpson or Jaaron Simmons in the game, but rather freshman Eli Brooks. He totaled 17 minutes on the night.
  • This is the third-straight game where the opposing point guard has led the Wolverines’ opponent in scoring. Tonight, it was Tremont Waters with 21 points in 31 minutes.