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Men's College Basketball: NCAA Tournament Roundup

Michigan stuns No. 2 seed Louisville, stays perfect since plane crash

By Michael Marot | AP Published: March 20, 2017 4:00 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Moe Wagner gritted his teeth, pumped his fist and stuck out his mouthpiece to the crowd's delight Sunday.

A few minutes later, the tough German took a couple more bows -- first on the baseline in front of Michigan's bench, then with the rest of his teammates near midcourt.

Suddenly, the often overlooked 6-foot-11 forward was the well-deserved center of attention.

Wagner scored a career high 26 points, made the basket that spurred Michigan's furious second-half rally and capped the day with a 3-pointer to give the Wolverines the lead for good as they knocked off second-seeded Louisville 73-69 to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.

"He's got the mentality where he wants to make the play," said Derrick Walton Jr., who drove in for Michigan's final basket with 29 seconds left. "He just makes the right play at all times. He has the calls to make the big plays, so we feed off him because he's not afraid of anything."

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Wagner's fearlessness has played a big part in Michigan's improbable late-season run.

In late February, Michigan was just 19-11 and trying to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Since then, it has won seven straight, six coming after a frightening plane accident on their way to the Big Ten Tournament.

So it seemed only fitting that the emotion, poise and momentum Michigan mustered over these past few weeks would help them fight their way off the ropes. Again.

Trailing 45-36 with 16:09 to play, Wagner made a layup that started a 17-6 run to give Michigan its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. When Wagner knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:39 to go to break a 55-55 tie, the Wolverines never trailed again.

Afterward, Michigan's players celebrated by jumping around near midcourt, then walking next to the pep band and pumping their fists toward yellow-clad fans as the school fight song boomed.

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Once inside the locker room, coach John Beilein playfully squirted his players with a water gun.

"A little damp right now," Beilein said as the postgame news conference began. "But our guys, we started a tradition of taking a shower, I guess, without going into the shower after good wins. It's not stopping."

At least not in Indianapolis.

Despite going 3-3 in their previous six games, Louisville (25-9) came into Sunday as a small favorite.

Coach Rick Pitino was 3-1 in head-to-head matchups with Beilein and the Cardinals had made it to the Sweet 16 in each of their previous four NCAA appearances.

But after sitting out last year's tourney because of a school-imposed postseason ban, the Cardinals' hopes were doused largely because of Wagner's ability to repeatedly get to the basket. That was all it took in a matchup between the two teams that played for a national championship four years ago.

"We made some poor switches," Pitino said. "Probably the weakness of our team this year has been our defense. Our offense in the last ten days or two weeks, we've gotten significantly better because we worked inside to out.".

Donovan Mitchell finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead Louisville. Deng Adel had 16 points and Mangok Mathiang added 13.

Not much went as expected, though.

Louisville's pressure defense forced only six Michigan turnovers and the Cardinals wound up just 5 of 20 on 3-pointers.

Walton had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists despite going 3 of 13 from the field. And two days after making a school record 16 3-pointers in a tourney game, the Wolverines were just 6 of 17.

Instead, they pounded the ball inside to D.J. Wilson, who had 17 points, three blocks and two steals, and the gritty Wagner, who spent most of Friday's first-round win in foul trouble.

On Sunday, he used his fresh legs to do the dirty work so well that the usually reliable, quiet sophomore screamed in celebration.

"We always believed in ourselves," Wagner said. "I just said to Coach B, we only shot six 3s today and we won. So it's awesome. We played gritty basketball, and I think we can be proud of that."

Shortly after the game started, Arkansas State announced it had hired one of Pitino's assistants, Mike Balado, as its next head coach. Balado spent the game on the bench, screaming and moving as he usually does.

KENTUCKY 65, WICHITA STATE 62

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bam Adebayo had a double-double and swatted away the final shot on Sunday as Kentucky sent Wichita State to yet another second-round heartbreak, 65-62 in the NCAA Tournament.

The youngest team in March Madness grew up in the closing minutes.

Adebayo had 13 points and 10 rebounds. De'Aaron Fox had 14 points, including a late steal and dunk. Malik Monk blocked a shot and made a pair of free throws in the final 13 seconds. Adebayo clinched it by blocking Landry Shamet's 3-pointer shot at the buzzer.

Yes, Kentucky's freshman trio did it all.

Wham, Bam, move on 'Cats (31-5), right into the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in nine years.

And wipe tears away again, Shockers (31-5).

Three years ago, Wichita State was 35-0 when it lost to Kentucky in the second round, crestfallen after Fred Van Vleet's 3-pointer missed at the buzzer of Kentucky's 78-76 win. This time, their attempt at a tying 3 never had a chance. Shamet finished with 20 points.

KANSAS 90, MICHIGAN STATE 70

TULSA, Okla. -- Josh Jackson scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half to help Kansas pull away late and reach the Sweet 16 for a second straight year with a 90-70 victory over Michigan State on Sunday.

Frank Mason III added 20 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (30-4), who have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in nine of coach Bill Self's 14 seasons.

Devonte' Graham added 18 points and Landen Lucas had 10 for the Jayhawks, who shot 53.1 percent (34 of 64) in the win.

Miles Bridges scored 22 points to lead Michigan State (20-15) despite leaving briefly in the first half with an injury. Nick Ward also finished in double figures with 13 points and Joshua Langford had 10 for the Spartans.


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