Oregon 69, Michigan 68: Oregon Advances After Surviving Michigan’s Buzzer-Beater Attempt
Those proved to be the final points in a 69-68 victory for Oregon (32-5) over seventh-seeded Michigan (26-12), sending the Ducks to the round of eight on Saturday to play the winner of the later game Thursday night, between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Purdue.
The Ducks were led by Dorsey and the junior Jordan Bell. Dorsey had 20 points; Bell had a double-double, with 16 points and 13 rebounds — including, on the possession before Dorsey’s lay-in, a crucial board on a missed Oregon free throw that he put back to cut Michigan’s lead to 1 point.
Michigan’s Walton finished with 20 points and 8 assists, and his fellow senior guard Zak Irvin had 19 points and 8 rebounds. Moritz Wagner, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Berlin, who goes by Moe, was Michigan’s leading scorer in the last game, an upset of second-seeded Louisville, but on Thursday he appeared physically overwhelmed in the low post and hapless elsewhere, at one point botching a clear layup after Oregon gave him the lane. He finished with 7 points on 10 shots and barely saw the court in the second half.
When Brooks hit a 3 with a little more than 13 minutes left in the game, Oregon led by 50-44 and looked in control.
But the Ducks let the Wolverines back in it, missing their next five field goals and going scoreless for more than three minutes. Wilson played terrific defense on Bell, forcing him into a miss one-on-one in the post and then grabbing the rebound. Michigan took a 51-50 lead with Walton sitting for the first time in the game.
Then Oregon fought back and built a 56-51 lead, with Tyler Ennis contributing a 3-point play. Wilson brilliantly faked his defender with the ball down low, only to miss the layup.
Later, Wilson found Irvin underneath in a Walton-like assist to cut Oregon’s lead to three.
The game continued to seesaw between 3- and 5-point Oregon leads until Wilson hit a 3 to cut Oregon’s lead to 60-58 with less than five minutes left. On Michigan’s next possession, Walton dribbled at the top of the key, and Oregon’s defense dropped back, giving him room to hit his own 3-pointer for a 61-60 lead for the Wolverines with 4:15 remaining.
The lead was short-lived: Another Oregon 3-pointer was in store, from Dorsey. On the other end? A 3 from Irvin.
With fewer than two minutes left and the shot clock dribbling, Walton took it upon himself again, creating a fadeaway shot that seemed to take an eternity to decide whether to go through the hoop or not. It finally decided in the affirmative, making the score 68-65 — Michigan’s largest lead since the first half.
Bell grabbed a missed Oregon free throw and put it in to make it a one-point Wolverines lead. This was followed by Dorsey’s athletic drive to make it 69-68 Oregon with one minute remaining.
Walton had one last chance to go ahead, but his buzzer-beating 3-pointer was short.
Though a major-conference champion with a famous football team, Michigan might have been the closet thing to a Cinderella story among the 16 teams that entered the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament’s second weekend. Fledgling through the end of the season, its plane bound for the Big Ten tournament skidded off the runway, spooking the team and causing light injuries. The Wolverines proceeded to tear through that tournament, winning it all.
Ranked as high as fourth overall in the Associated Press poll this season, Oregon lost its top shot-blocker, senior Chris Boucher, to a season-ending knee injury in the Pacific-12 tournament.
The Ducks now look to make just their second Final Four in program history — and their first since 1939, the very first Final Four of them all.
Continue reading the main story