KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Driving right, like so many times before, Derrick Walton Jr. hesitated, jabbed stepped, backing off his opponent, before stepping back for what looked like a “absolutely” destiny filled game winning jumper.
This time, however, Michigan's senior captain fell short, and with it, U-M's basketball season ended at the Sweet 16, as No. 2 Oregon defeated No. 7 Michigan, 69-68, Thursday evening at Sprint Center.
“Personally, I think it was the best shot I got all night,” Walton Jr. said, moments after his college career ended abruptly.
“I had great lift. I shot like every other shot tonight. I thought it could be great moment for that shot to go in. It just fell short.”
Walton Jr., like he had done throughout Michigan’s postseason run, led Michigan with 20 points, including 3-of-5 from 3s, and eight assists.
“When you look at the game throughout the game there is always stuff you can do better,” Walton Jr. said. “It’s difficult to think that we’ve been so good in last possession games, and it just fell short tonight.”
Fellow senior Zak Irvin echoed Walton Jr.’s thoughts, saying it looked good from his vantage point.
“I’ve seen him practice that shot, work on it, made it in the game, he made it in this game,” fellow senior Zak Irvin said of Walton’s attempt. “You know he’s known for his step back. I loved his match up that he had. He had a lot of separation. It looked good. It’s just tough it didn’t go down.”
There is much to take solace after a tough loss, although U-M just ended an remarkable run that included winning 12 of it last 14 games, including seven game win streak, surviving a runway airplane accident, winning the Big Ten Tournament, and capping off with a Sweet 16 berth.
“The guys we got in this locker room we just don’t quit,” Walton Jr. said. “We always had faith and determination in the big picture we had a special run in us. We’re very sad that the season is over.”
Later shaking his head in disbelief, Walton Jr. again recounted his shot.
"I feel like that shot it the best possible shot I could possibly shoot all night. It rolled off my hand perfectly. In my head when I let it go I thought it was good, and to see it fall short, the last sot of the game, it’s tough to think of right there.”