Zak Irvin knocked down a right elbow jumper from 17 feet out to give the Michigan Wolverines a two-point lead in overtime. The bucket was enough to beat the Northwestern Wildcats in the Big Ten Tournament, 72-70.
"I was amped up before the game," Irvin, a native of Indiana said. "It's always nice coming back to your hometown so that friends and family can see you play. I was just proud of how hard we were able to fight and how tough we were throughout. Coach (John) Beilein put the ball in my hands at the end, and we were just trying to get the best shot we could."
Close To The End
The Wolverines (21-11) had the chance to close things out, but Alex Olah of Northwestern made it very interesting. Duncan Robinson missed the second of two free throws to give the Wildcats one last shot, well actually two shots. Tre Demps missed a beautiful step-back opportunity, but Olah tossed the ball through the net with 0.1 seconds left to take the battle into overtime.
It was an afternoon to remember for Olah, who registered 20 points, 13 rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats (20-12). Demps scored 21 points and dished off two assists in a team-high 45 minutes of play.
Robinson made up for his missed free throw with a three-point jumper with 46 seconds left to tie the game. With only a few seconds left, Irvin hit from 17 feet and the Wolverines owned a two-point lead. After a missed shot from Northwestern, Derrick Walton Jr., who passed off a game-high five assists, got the rebound but stepped out of bounds with 0.6 seconds left in overtime.
"There has been a maturity to Zak's game as he has grown as a player at Michigan," John Beilein said. "He has always been good in tough situations, but at the same time, when you are coming back here and playing Purdue or Indiana or just playing in Indianapolis, there's a little bit more pressure on you. He understands that now a lot better than he did in the past couple of years."
The final triple from Bryant McIntosh of the Wildcats hit off the front of the rim and fell off at the buzzer. McIntosh scored 19 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from the parking lot. Along with the points, the guard chipped in four rebounds and five assists.
"These are two very evenly matched teams," Chris Collins, the coach of Northwestern, said. "We don't have that brand name that Michigan has, but we are a good basketball team that is getting there. I hope we have more basketball to play is season. These guys deserve that.
"To win 20 regular season games and eight in the Big Ten shows just how far these guys have brought the program in a short time."
Through The Game
At halftime, Michigan owned a 34-25 lead due to Robinson's 14-of-21 points coming in the first half of basketball. The Maize and Blue started the game on a 16-0 run before Demps knocked a three-pointer for the Wildcats. Robinson finished with 21 points, three rebounds and one assist. Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman combined for an outstanding 33 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in the win.
The bench of Northwestern struggled as Nathan Taphorn and Scottie Lindsey combined for six points. Michigan, however, got 14 combined points from Ricky Doyle, Kameron Chatman, Aubrey Dawkins and Andrew Dakich.
Michigan, who owns the No. 8 rank in the Big Ten Tournament, will face the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers in the quarterfinals on Friday at noon on ESPN. Northwestern will wait for Selection Sunday to find out if the team will be playing in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT Tournament.