ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan got the win most expected on Thursday night, but it didn’t come without plenty of trepidation. After eclipsing 80 points in each of their previous three games, the Wolverines failed to get to 70, edging Furman 68-62 at the Crisler Center.
But in a game that Michigan (10-3) led by just 3 points with 30 seconds left, it was a cold-blooded, step-back 3-point shot from senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. that put the Wolverines up 6 and put the pesky Paladins (7-6) away.
WHY: Michigan trailed in the second half, but never by more than one possession. Furman’s strong defense limited the Wolverines’ unusually predictable offense, but keeping the game close allowed Michigan to avoid the upset.
WHAT IT MEANS: The nonconference upset scare finally came, and the Wolverines got it out of the way without disaster. Big Ten play is next, and Michigan enters it 1) with the experience of surviving such a close game, and 2) without a giant blemish on the résumé.
WHO STARRED: Sophomore forward Moe Wagner continued to stay hot, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds. After scoring in double figures just once in his first five games, Wagner has done it in seven of his last eight. Meanwhile, senior forward Zak Irvin came alive late to finish with 16 points.
WO STUMBLED: The slow start to the season continued for senior guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who got the start but did not score a point.
WHO’S NEXT: Michigan is scheduled to open up Big Ten play at Iowa on Jan. 1. Game time is TBD, however, due to potential scheduling conflicts with the final day of the NFL regular season.