After a wild 40 minutes two days ago against Oklahoma State, the Michigan Wolverines looked to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 on Sunday with a 2013 Finals rematch against the Louisville Cardinals.
After plenty of ups and downs, and some questionable officiating on both ends early on, the No. 7 seeded Wolverines took down the No. 2 seeded Cardinals 73-69 in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Coming into the game, Derrick Walton Jr. was the catalyst throughout most of the Big 10 season, but especially the Big 10 Tournament. But today, it was all about the German.
Moritz Wagner had arguably the best game of his career with a career-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting, three rebounds and two steals. The Wolverines utilized the big man down low most of the game. He also hit his only 3-point attempt of the game. It’s obvious he has developed into one of Michigan’s best players this season with his insane footwork and quick moves to the bucket.
With the game tied at 28 with just a little over one minute in the first half, the Cardinals ended the half on an 8-0 run, putting Louisville up 36-28 at halftime.
It took Walton until the 4:56 mark in the first half to nail his first two points — two free throws — but just nine seconds in the second half to find Wagner for an easy lay up to score the first points of the second half. He began to find his rhythm as the game went on, ending with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Louisville led by as many as nine points in the game, but Michigan just continued to pick away at the score. After several 3-pointers by Walton and D.J. Wilson, followed by turnovers and missed shots by the Cardinals, Michigan and Louisville were suddenly tied.
With shooting just 3-of-13, Walton struggled contributing on the score sheet the entire game. But with time winding down and the Wolverines up by two points, the struggling senior drove to the lane and cashed in on a contested lay up, putting Michigan up by four with less than one minute to play.
After putting the Wolverines ahead by four, it was D.J. Wilson’s time to shine again with free-throws. He converted on all four free-throw shots he attempted in clutch time. He made two timely free-throws in the OK State game on Friday. If he had not made those shots, the Wolverines would’ve lost due to the last-second 3-pointer by the Cowboys.
Michigan will now wait to see who the next opponent will be. The winner of the Oregon/Rhode Island game, airing tonight at 7:10 p.m. on TBS, will play the Wolverines in the Sweet 16.