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Michigan stumbles to a tough win against Minnesota

It was ugly, but it still counts

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The start was inauspicious. Minnesota’s Nate Mason led the Gophers to a 7-2 lead at the first media timeout, aided by a slow start for the Wolverines from the floor. Mo Wagner committed an early turnover and foul, causing Beilein to sub-in Jon Teske early.

After battling back and forth, Michigan finally found its shot and forced the Gophers to take a timeout with 8:37 left in the first. Minnesota was still shooting 50% from the floor, but the Wolverines had scrapped to get the deficit to just one point.

The game continued in that fashion for the rest of the first half. Both teams experienced sizeable droughts and went on mini-runs. When they entered the locker room, Michigan trailed 32-34. Charles Matthews, the Wolverines leading scorer on the season, couldn’t get anything to fall in the first half. He recorded just 2 points while going 0-6 from the field in 17 minutes.

The second half started much the same way as the first half ended, with both teams missing numerous shots and committing bad fouls. But then, Michigan finally pulled even. A Mo Wagner three from the corner and a Charles Matthews dunk brought the game to 37-37. After a 1-2 trip to the line for Wagner, Michigan found itself with their first lead of the afternoon.

But it didn’t last for long. As soon as Michigan took the lead, Minnesota went on a 6-0 run forcing Beilein to take a timeout. Matthews’ struggles continued in the second half, including from the freethrow line where he went 4-10 on the afternoon. Unfortunately, Matthews wasn’t alone. The entire team went just 5-17 from the freethrow line in the second half and 12-28 on the day.

Michigan mostly kept it close until making a push late in the game. Minnesota found itself with yet another scoring drought lasting more than 2:30, and this time the Wolverines capitalized with a 6-0 run. Again going back and forth, Michigan found its second and third leads as time ticked off the clock, but the Wolverines couldn’t get more than a one possession lead on the Gophers.

And then it finally happened. A jumper from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a missed three-pointer from Minnesota, and a Charles Matthews dunk - the Wolverines had their lead. Growing to five points with less than 30 seconds remaining, all that was left was the free throws. They didn’t go well. After some... questionable officiating, Minnesota hit the clutch three to send the game to extra time.

During the overtime period, it was the same back-and-forth basketball. But this time, the magic was Michigan’s. With four seconds left, MAAR spun to the basket and got a layup to fall while being fouled. After making the freethrow, Michigan was up by three. The Gophers’ desperation heave from just inside half court found only iron, and the Wolverines had their victory.

John Beilein’s crew is now 19-6 (8-4) on the season. They’ll be back in action on Tuesday against Northwestern.