ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team pulled out a 65-64 victory over Missouri in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night (March 16) at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (19-11) withstood a 15-1 Tiger scoring run during an eight-minute scoring drought, and sophomore Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) scored six of his team-high 20 points in the final four minutes to lead U-M to the win.
Horton tied his season high with 20 points, including a key bucket with 0:32 to play.
Missouri immediately went to work inside, going up 6-0 in the first two minutes of the game after three baskets in the low post. The Wolverines did not get on the scoreboard until 17:45, when sophomore Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) connected on a short bucket in the paint. After a turnover by the Tigers, Harris nailed a short jumper and Robinson followed with a long two from the wing to knot the score at 6-6 with 16:51 remaining in the first half.
Horton came out of the first media timeout and hit his first triple to give the Wolverines their first lead of the game, 9-6. The Tigers narrowed the gap to one point with their first field goal in nearly four minutes, but Sims responded with his first basket of the game. Four straight points from Johnson gave Missouri back the lead at 12-11, but U-M would once again reclaim a one-point advantage after sophomore Chris Hunter's (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) first hoop at 12:43.
Hunter's basket would be Michigan's last field goal for over four minutes, as Mizzou went on a short 5-1 run to grab back a 17-14 lead. The Wolverines answered the call, holding the Tigers to just one point for almost six minutes while going on a 12-1 scoring run of their own. Harris drilled his first three-pointer during the surge, and Robinson converted on a tough runner from the baseline after hitting two free throws on the previous U-M possession. A turnaround jumper off the window by Sims gave Michigan an eight-point advantage, 25-17, with 5:38 left until the break.
A bucket from Johnson broke the Missouri scoreless drought, and Travon Bryant followed with the team's first triple of the game to trim Michigan's lead to 25-22. The Tigers connected on another three to come within one point, but Harris came right back and hit his second triple to put U-M back up by four with two minutes to go. Horton closed out the first-half scoring, nailing his second three-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Wolverines a 32-26 advantage after the first half of play.
Horton and Harris netted eight points apiece to pace Michigan in the first 20 minutes, and Sims pulled down seven first-half rebounds. Johnson finished with 12 points and eight boards in the first frame to lead Missouri.
Johnson opened the second half with a basket inside to cut the deficit to four points, but a tricky lay-in by Harris and a three from Horton pushed the Michigan lead to a game-high nine points, 37-28. Unfortunately, Horton's hoop would be U-M's last for over eight minutes, as Mizzou went on a 15-1 run to reclaim a 43-38 lead with 12:42 to go in the game.
Freshman Brent Petway's (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) tip-in basket brought the Wolverines within three points, but Missouri reeled off four straight points to go up by a game-high eight points, 48-40. Petway continued to give U-M the momentum, slamming home a missed shot, and Robinson kept the Wolverines within four points, 50-46, with a pair of tough jumpers in traffic.
Horton's fourth triple of the game trimmed the Tigers' lead to one point, and the two teams continued to exchange baskets over the next two minutes of action. Robinson's pair of free throws with exactly five minutes remaining gave Michigan its first lead in 10 minutes, 55-54. The Wolverines continued to take it to Missouri, as Horton scored on a pretty reverse layup before collecting a loose ball and putting it in to increase the lead to 59-55 with 3:42 to play.
Johnson scored four straight points to tie the score at 59-59, but Hunter had a key basket off a missed free throw to put U-M on top 61-59. A pair of free throws from Harris increased the cushion to four points, but Rickey Paulding's three-pointer cut the lead to 63-62 with 50.1 seconds left. Horton's one-handed rainbow with 32 seconds on the clock proved to be the game winner, as Missouri failed on its three-point attempt to tie and Michigan eventually pulled out the one-point victory.
The Wolverines will face the winner of Louisiana State and Oklahoma in second-round action of the NIT. Game date, time and location will be announced at a later date.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423