You live by the three and die by the three, Michigan certainly thrived on Friday.
They call it March Madness for a reason, the madness played a major role in the Wolverines advancing to the next round. Defeating Oklahoma State 92-91 on Friday.
Making an astonishing 11 three-pointers in the second half, it appeared that all was settled as the game narrowed down. That certainly wasn't the case as the Wolverines struggled to hit the front end of one-and-one's, which allowed Oklahoma State to draw the score within two with 4 seconds left to play. Forward D.J. Wilson hit a pair of clutch free throws to put the game out of reach.
It was a defense-optional affair, but U-M found its shooting stroke just at the right time. Nursing a sore ankle through most of the second half, Walton came alive in the second half despite clear signs the ankle was hindering his performance. Walton finished the game with 2x points and led his time like he's done so many times this season.
Comparing what the second half turned into, the sluggish start to the first half proved to be an anomaly.
The first half both teams came out to a surprisingly sluggish start, the game was tied at three with 15 minutes left in the first half. After the lull in play, both teams put the pedal down and started to play their game.
With Oklahoma State controlling play early in the game, a 6-0 run brought the Wolverines back into contention. Aided by a Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman four-point play, the Wolverines would eventually seize control of the game once again. Down by two with less than a minute to play in the first half, U-M point guard Derrick Walton Jr. was fouled beyond the arc, making all three free throws to bring the Wolverines' lead to one point at the half.
Walton, who U-M has relied on to lead his team over the course of the month, played a relatively quiet half making only one field goal, a three-pointer, for seven points in the half. Wolverines center Moritz Wagner sat most of the first half due to foul trouble.
For the Cowboys, Jeffrey Carroll had a total of nine points and four rebounds in the first half. Jawun Evans, the speedy point guard, was all over the court and contributed eight points.
The Wolverines will play the winner of Louisville and Jacksonville State on Sunday.