It wasn’t easy for the No. 3 (33-7) Michigan Wolverines over the No. 11 (32-6) Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, but when the final buzzer sounded they were victorious. Michigan defeated Loyola 69-57.
Loyola didn’t make a field goal for over eight minutes in the first half, but Michigan wasn’t able to capitalize off that stat. U-M had eight turnovers the first half, while shooting just 9-31 from the field.
At half, Loyola led Michigan 29-22.
Nearly all the points scored by Michigan in the first half were thanks to Mo Wagner and Charles Matthews. Wagner had 11 points, and Matthews had 8 in the first half.
The start of the second half wasn’t pretty for Michigan, as the offense was still sputtering, not running the type of offense they normally do.
But just like a great boxing fight, the late rounds decided the fight. The final rounds showed who was the better team, who is more conditioned.
Michigan was down by ten on two separate occasion in the second half, but they battled back with the help of some timely three’s
With 6:20 remaining Michigan re-gained the lead off two made free-throws by Jordan Poole. Michigan had a 17-2 run and never looked back.
While it was a team effort, if Michigan didn’t have Mo Wagner today, they wouldn’t have won. Wagner was the catalyst on both sides of the court for Michigan, hauling in 15 rebounds and draining 10-16 shots for 24 points. Wagner played a team high 36 minutes.
If Wagner was Batman, Matthews was Robin, totaling 17 points of his own.
Matthews and Wagner were both able to keep the game close when the rest of the team was struggling, and when things were all said and done they picked their teammates up long enough for players like Jordan Poole and Duncan Robinson to make some buckets.
While this wasn’t a pretty win for Michigan, they did enough to get the job done. U-M outscored Loyola 47-28 in the second half and benefited from the Ramblers committing 17 turnovers and hitting just 1-10 three pointers.
“Don’t get emotionally drunk,” Wagner said after the game.
And that’s the right mindset to have. Michigan has another daunting task on Monday in the National Championship game.