The Michigan basketball team’s 3-point shooting was on fire in a 92-91 win against No. 10 Oklahoma State on Friday in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Indianapolis.
The seventh-seeded Wolverines (25-11) found a groove after Derrick Walton Jr. hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help his team to a 70-64 lead with less than 10 minutes left. The Wolverines held off Oklahoma State late in the game, as the Cowboys cut Michigan’s lead to 3 with 2:05 left on Mitchell Solomon’s dunk, then to 2 points in the final minute.
Michigan will face either No. 2 seed Louisville or No. 15 Jacksonville State in a second-round game Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with time TBA.
Here’s what Michigan coach John Beilein had to say after the Wolverines’ first-round win against the Cowboys (20-13):
On having prep time prior to facing Oklahoma State:
“Seeing (us) play Sunday, it gave us some good prep time. That prep time didn’t make me feel any better knowing the weapons that we were going to be facing. If somebody would have ever said that we’re going to give up 91 and we were going to win, I wouldn’t have thought that was going to happen. We had enough firepower to withstand their incredible offensive talent and get enough points. Just really compliment Oklahoma State. They had a great year.
“Really, I didn’t know Brad Underwood at all. I have huge respect for who he is and that program. The Cowboy fans should feel lucky with the direction the program is going. Really happy for our guys. We had to make shots. Early in the game, we settled way too much. This is like seven games in a row, everybody switching every ball screen. We’re used to it, but we settled a little bit.
“Their pressure bothered us early. Once we settled in, we were fine. Really proud of these kids and looking forward to playing the winner of this game right now.”
On facing Oklahoma State’s press early:
“They were trying to slow us down and make us change in the middle. At the same time, we had 19 assists and 4 turnovers. So it just took us just a little bit out of our rhythm. And then the shot clock’s going down. And we just, at that point, I just thought there’s five, six times, everybody in the country was saying they got to stop settling, including me and including them, but we did it. And we learned from it, and it didn’t happen in the second half. Shooting the ball from 3 is part of our package, and we can do that, but we can also drive it in there too and throw it in.
“But today, we were really good at hitting the open man. Derrick’s 11 assists, overall 19 assists, that’s a big number with only 4 turnovers especially. We valued every possession.”
On Michigan’s last minute of play against Oklahoma State:
“That’s the world we’ve lived in. You go back to that tremendous game against Northwestern just two weeks ago, last-second game. Nebraska’s the only one that doesn’t get there. Nebraska, maybe Illinois has got a good enough lead.
“All the other games, it’s been 2 or 3 minutes to go. Anybody can win. For us to execute our press offense to get it inbounds is very difficult. When they still have 4 fouls to go and you’ve got to inbound it four times from a similar spot, you only have so many inbounds plays. That was close, and we got it done.
“We weren’t great with our energy at that. These guys heard about that, but those are all the things that I think, hopefully, will come to help us in the road ahead.”
On creating offense within the pace of the game:
“I continue to say the 30-second clock, that 5 seconds made a huge difference in who we are. So we find ourselves simplifying things a lot more. They were taking away some things, running quick hitters or just playing off ball screen reads. So I think that’s the way the game has gone.
“Over that time, I have evolved a lot as a coach, (I’ve) seen 43 years of a lot of change. We continue to embrace that to be able to play downhill, but do it with shooters as well. But that’s a big part of our game plan, one-on-one, and guarding one-on-one will have to continue to improve for us, but we’ve got to keep working at it.”
On how Zak Irvin has evolved as a leader:
“We can write a book on this one. This whole time, he’s unflappable. Periods in the sophomore year, he lost his backcourt. The sophomore’s supposed to fill in the blanks. Now the sophomore is one of our most experienced players.
“We learned so much through that. He learned so much from that. What has happened, what I’ve seen, he had a year right now where when we weren’t playing well, right, he was not confident in what he was doing.
“He was unflappable through it all. All of a sudden now, if you check his stats, he’s shooting about 50 percent overall and from 3 during these last five games when it really counted. I had several questions about this. When do you turn to somebody else? I said I’m not turning to anybody else. We’ve got a team. Zak Irvin is in there and will take shots because he makes shots. We have a lot of confidence in him. I wouldn’t do that if he hadn’t shown extreme selfless leadership during the entire four years here.”
On the final 4 minutes, and what Michigan did to dictate play:
“When we did force them to miss, if you look at the numbers, they got offensive rebounds. That was a big thing when they could get it. It’s very difficult when you’ve got a downhill driver like that, he can throw anything off the board. The natural rotation is to go to the level of the ball.
“Guy’s got a running start to come in. I think that was a huge difference in the game was their ability to —those 13 rebounds, I betcha they were — I can’t say where it was, but I’m sure 20 points easily just going downhill. So it wasn’t any magic.
“Now, sometimes, the ball just bounces your way off those rebounds. Maybe sometimes we do box out a little bit. But overall, we limited their possessions that we had earlier in the game, early in the half.”
Beilein: "We valued every possession." Praising the 4 turnovers vs. 19 assists.
— Tyler Fenwick (@Ty_Fenwick) March 17, 2017
Beilein– If I thought we would would give up 91, wouldn't think we would win the game
— DetroitSportsPodcast (@DetroitPodcast) March 17, 2017
Coach Beilein taking about the improvements Michigan has made this year defensively. They were great on perimeter today.
— Sam Mayes (@AllmericanMayes) March 17, 2017