DAYTON, Ohio – Down one with Michigan's season on the line, Zak Irvin knew he needed to make one more play to extend U-M’s NCAA Tournament run.
Cutting across the top of the key, Irvin squared up, jumped, release, swoosh, sinking the biggest three-pointer of U-M’s season, while putting the Wolverines up 62-60 with 52.7 seconds remaining.
U-M would force Shaquille Harrison miss on Tulsa’s next possession, as the Wolverines would hit their free-throws down the stretch run, topping the Golden Hurricanes 67-62 in the First Four game held at University of Dayton Arena.
“Coach trust the ball in my hands,” Irvin said afterwards. “I had a ball-screen up top. I just let the play unravel. I just saw that I was open and decided to take it.”
Adding: “Soon as it left my hands it felt good."
In a second half that saw a back and fourth affair between the No. 11 seeds, the final minutes created drama filled ending.
Trailing 56-55, Duncan Robinson’s lay-in, followed by a Moritz Wagner’s put back dunk to put Michigan (23-12) up 59-56 with less than two minutes remaining.
However, Harrison’s cross-court lay-in put would put Tulsa (20-12) up 60-59 with just over a minute remaining.
Next, of course, Irvin hit his crucial shot.
“I have a lot of trust in him,” Michigan coach John Beilein said of Irvin.
“I look at his eyes, I can tell a lot form his eyes where he is. And he wanted the ball late. And we just went with him. It’s what he wants to do. I wasn’t surprised at all when he pulled up.”
Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led U-M with 16 points. Duncan Robinson added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Harrison led Tulsa with a game-high 23 points.
After starting shooting 5-of-22 from the field, Michigan finished 6-of-11 down the stretch run of the first half.
Trailing Tulsa 16-14, Michigan went on 11-4 run to extend its lead to 25-18 with two minutes left in the first half of play. Irvin would spark the run with turn around jumper, followed by a Robinson lay up, and three straight buckets from Walton Jr., who bounced in a three-pointer to cap the run.
Walton Jr. ended U-M’s last first half possession with a three-pointer from the right corner, scoring Michigan last 10 points of the first half.
Michigan led 28-20 at halftime.
Neither team shot particularly well in the first half. Tulsa shot 36.0 percent, while U-M shot 34.4 from the field.
Besides Walton Jr.’s two 3-pointers, Michigan shot 4-of-18 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Next up, Michigan plays against No. 6 Notre Dame this Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“It’s a really good team,” Beilein said. “I know we recruited several of their players. I know they have a lot of talent and a great coach. And we are going to New York on St. Patrick’s Day to play them on the next day.