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Michigan starts slow, moves past Montana in NCAA Tournament

The Wolverines overcame a 10-0 run to start the game, as they advance to the Round of 32.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Michigan vs Montana Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

In a grind-it-out affair between No. 3 Michigan and No. 14 Montana, the Wolverines were able to top the Grizzlies in the NCAA Tournament First Round and advance.

The Wolverines (29-7) defeated Montana (26-8) 61-47 after overcoming a slow start and a below-average offensive performance.

U-M will now take on No. 6 Houston in the Round of 32 on Saturday. Start time will be 30 minutes after the Kansas and Seton Hall game which starts at 7:10 p.m. in Wichita, KS.

The Cougars beat No. 11 San Diego State in the first round 67-65 on a last second shot from Rob Gray. Gray scored 39 points in the narrow win.


The Wolverines came out looking flat-footed, allowing the Grizzlies to start the game on a 10-0 run.

U-M got a couple buckets from transfer guard Jaaron Simmons off the bench, but it still trailed 17-10 nearing 10 minutes to play in the opening half.

Transfer guard Charles Matthews would drive to the rim for a finger-roll and tie the game at 17 all. It was the first tie of the game at the 6:40 mark of the first half.

The shots would start to fall as U-M made five of its last seven shots to close the half, posting a 31-28 advantage heading into the break.

The Wolverines allowed 16 points in the paint and shot just 25 percent (2-of-8) from 3-point distance.

Sophomore guard Zavier Simpson would hit his first shot of the game with a 3-pointer at the 17:24 mark of the second half. It gave the Wolverines their largest lead at 38-30.

Neither team asserted an offensive flow, as the Wolverines stumbled to a 40-30 lead with 11:37 remaining.

The Wolverines would get a triple from senior forward Duncan Robinson with 3:57 to play that put U-M back up double figures, 50-38.

The Grizzlies would cut the lead down to nine points with less than two minutes to go, but they simply ran out of time.

Matthews led the way with a game-high 20 points for U-M. Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 11 points on just 3-of-11 shooting.

U-M had 14 turnovers and allowed 26 points in the paint. They shot 31 percent (5-of-16) from beyond the arc and 14-of-22 (64 percent) from the free-throw-line.

Game notes

  • Backup point guards Eli Brooks (2) and Simmons (6) combined for eight first half points when the Wolverines offense was struggling.
  • The shot clock and scorers tables went out at the 16:56 mark of the second half, stopping the game for an extended period.
  • Montana once had a scoring drought of no points for over 10 minutes in the second half. Michigan went on a 11-0 run over that time.
  • The win marks John Beilein’s 20th career NCAA Tournament victory.