MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Just when you thought Michigan was going to cruise to victory, Minnesota had other plans. By very nearly giving up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Wolverines were able to escape with an 82-74 victory over the Golden Golphers on Wednesday night.
Coming off two-straight losses, U-M was in a position to cruise to victory in the second half. Leading by as much as 19 points in the half, Minnesota utilized a furious rally late that trimmed the Wolverines' lead to as little as two points with around two minutes left to go in the game. A crucial and-one by Muhammed Ali-Abdur Rahkman and a steal after Derrick Walton Jr. turned the ball over saved the day for the Wolverines.
The Golden Gophers rally was fueled by guard Nate Mason, who finished the game with 19 points, and forward Jordan Murphy who finished the game with 14. Both players, especially Mason, were able to drive the lane and get to the basket with ease. The comeback by the Gophers had everything to do with the fact that they appeared to ignore the outside shot and elect for more looks inside that U-M was giving them. Countless uncontested layups were able to go in and it appeared the Wolverines didn't have an answer.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, however, they were able to ward off the late onslaught and seal the deal.
The hero of the game for the Wolverines was Walton. Finishing the game with a career high 26 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals, he was the catalyst and major reason for victory on Wednesday night.
Ali-Abdur Rahkman also added 16 crucial points on top of his late-game efforts.
Despite the late second half rally, the Wolverines were able to find greater success from the three-point line on Wednesday. Finishing the night with 56% shooting from beyond the arc, the numbers were much improved and U-M was capitalize on the open looks. The three point shot aided the Wolverines in jumping out to a first half lead.
U-M will face Purdue on Saturday, February 13, at the Crisler Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.