Ann Arbor, MI — The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines overcame a shaky first half to top Minnesota 59-57, inside the Crisler Center on Tuesday night. The Minnesota Gophers gave the Wolverines all they could, but in the end, the Wolverines hit a buzzer-beater to win the game.
Minnesota led the entire first half, holding Michigan to 31.4% from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc. Despite Minnesota’s 10 first-half turnovers, the Gophers carried a three-point lead into halftime, 31-28.
The Wolverines looked as though it might be suffering a hangover following Saturday’s loss at Wisconsin. Prior to that setback, the last time Michigan had lost a regular season game was Feb. 6 of last season.
“They’re strong kids. The only thing they can do is make sure we let go of that one and get better from it,” head coach John Beilein stated prior to the game on how his captains, Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson, would help galvanize the team against Minnesota.
And get better they did.
Simpson gave Michigan its first lead of the game in the second half when he took advantage of the defense on a fast break. Less than 30-seconds later, he did the same thing, putting Michigan up 41-37 with 15:04 left in the game. After that, there was a momentum shift at the Crisler Center as the Wolverines went on a 15-2 run.
The Gophers, ranked 24th in the NCAA in offensive rebounding, was held to only 10 second chance points. But a 10-0 run late in the second half brought the game to a tie. Minnesota’s freshman guard Gabe Kalschuer, buried a three which tied the score at 57-57 with 30 seconds remaining.
Out of a timeout, Coach Beilein designed a play to put the ball into freshman Ignas Brazdeikis’s hands and hold for the final shot. But his shot at the rim would not fall. However, Matthews pulled down the offensive rebound and hit a baseline jumper as time expired.
The Wolverines rebounded from its last loss and avoided being upset again, beating Minnesota, 59-57.
While fans were not sure if Matthews’ shot was made before the buzzer originally, his head coach knew it did count before the replay.
“I saw and I heard and I trust my ears. I saw the ball leave Charles hand and I heard the buzzer go off and that’s usually a good sign.”
Brazdeikis led the way for the Wolverines with 18 points and 11 rebounds, 13 of those points coming in the second half. Jon Teske was close behind with 15 points.
With the win tonight, Michigan improves to 18-1 overall and 13-0 at home. The Wolverines have a tough road game Friday at Indiana before returning home to face rival Ohio State on Jan. 29.