ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team earned its 20th win of the season and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals by defeating Oklahoma 63-52 Monday night (March 22) in front of 11,241 fans at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (20-11) held the Sooners without a single field goal for nearly nine minutes in the first half, but Oklahoma fought its way back to reclaim an early second-half lead before U-M pulled away with a six unanswered points in the final minutes to put the game out of reach.
Hunter (above) and Brent Petway gave the Wolverines solid post play off the bench.
Neither team was able to build a substantial lead in the early minutes of the game. Robinson provided the Wolverines with an immediate spark, hitting a triple from the top of the arc to put U-M on the board before making a spinning dish to freshman Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) for a slam. Johnnie Gilbert led the Sooner charge with two early buckets inside, helping Oklahoma grab an 8-5 advantage heading into the first media timeout at 15:11.
Michigan came out of the timeout and immediately erased OU's lead with a pair of long-range jumpers. Harris collected his first basket with a long two, and Horton followed with his first three-pointer to put the Wolverines on top 10-8. A pair of Oklahoma free throws tied the score, but Robinson answered with a pretty lay-in as he was fouled. The ensuing free throw fell, but the Sooners came right back with a layup of their own. Hunter then rattled home a short jumper to give U-M a 15-12 lead before De'Angelo Alexander knotted the score once again at 15-15 with a triple at 11:29 of the first half.
Freshman Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) gave Michigan the momentum with a lay-in on the break, and Harris then blew by his defender for a reverse bucket from the baseline to put the Wolverines up by four points, 19-15, and force Oklahoma to call timeout. Foust kept the Sooners within striking distance after converting on a three-point play to trim U-M's lead to three points.
Foust's hoop would be Oklahoma's last field goal for nearly nine minutes, as Michigan went on an 11-2 run during the Sooner scoring drought. Petway collected another hoop during the span, while sophomore Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) scored his first bucket inside. The run was highlighted by a pretty feed from Horton to Hunter for a dunk, and a Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS) free throw capped off the spurt and gave U-M a 10-point lead, 30-20, in the closing minutes of the first frame. Oklahoma ended the half on a good note, as Jason Detrick hit a triple and Foust slammed home a miss to cut the deficit to five points heading into the locker room.
Robinson finished the first 20 minutes with six points and seven rebounds to lead Michigan, while Foust scored seven points and pulled down five boards for the Sooners.
Sims opened the second half with an alley-oop layup, but Oklahoma reeled off nine straight points to reclaim a 34-32 lead. It was then Michigan's turn to answer, as Harris connected on his first triple in transition to start an 8-2 U-M scoring run. Harris put home another layup on the break, while Petway came up with a crucial offensive board and muscled home two points to give the Wolverines a 40-36 advantage with 12:27 left in the game.
Following a Sooner basket, Petway drew a charging foul under the hoop, which was argued by OU head coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson was eventually called for a technical foul, and Harris nailed both of the resulting free throws to put U-M in front 42-38. The Wolverines kept things rolling, outscoring Oklahoma 7-2 over the next three minutes to increase the cushion to 49-40 with 5:59 remaining.
Lawrence McKenzie brought the Sooners within two points, 49-47, after a pair of three-pointers, but that would be as close as OU would get. Michigan's backcourt stepped up in the waning minutes of the game, as Horton knocked down a pair of floaters in traffic, and Harris nailed two from the line to push the lead to 55-47 with 1:11 to go. The U-M defense secured the victory by holding Oklahoma to just one more basket the rest of the way, and Hunter and Petway combined to score Michigan's final six points from the free throw line.
The Wolverines will host Hawaii, an 84-83 winner over Nebraska, in the NIT quarterfinals this Wednesday (March 24) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423