ANN ARBOR — Michigan overcame abysmal foul shooting, poor outside shooting, and two 20-point scorers to avoid an upset Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center, beating Minnesota 76-73 in overtime.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s and-one basket with 3.8 seconds left was the difference. He drove, spun, and made a layup and the free throw. Nate Nason’s deep 3 at the buzzer was off the mark, and the Wolverines (19-6, 8-4) escaped.
The Wolverines made just 12-of-28 free throws, a 43 percent success rate. More than half of their field goal attempts were from 3, and they hit 8-of-32 (25 percent). But five Michigan players reached double figures, both Moritz Wagner and Charles Matthews posted double-doubles, and Michigan’s zone defense slowed the Gophers late.
After trailing for much of the game, Michigan led by five after a Matthews dunk with 28 seconds left in regulation. But a Minnesota basket, followed by two missed free throws, opened the door. Duncan Robinson, harassed by multiple Minnesota defenders after receiving an inbounds pass, was called for a travel, and Mason drilled a 3 with five seconds left to tie the game at 63. Abdur-Rahkman’s off-balance, contested 3 at the buzzer missed.
Mason finished with 22 points and Isaiah Washington poured in 26 for the Gophers. Unable to contain Minnesota’s backcourt duo, Michigan used a zone defense for the final 12 minutes of regulation, as well as overtime, and had much better success defensively.
Minnesota (14-11, 3-9) made 28 field goals on just six assists. Both teams shot 28-for-63 from the floor. Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan with 17 points. Robinson had 10. Zavier Simpson had 15 despite shooting 1-of-8 from 3. Matthews tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Wagner had 16 and 10.
Matthew was 5-of-12 from the line and Abdur-Rahkman, an 85 percent foul shooter entering Saturday, was 3-for-7.
A Matthews drive and dunk followed by a Wagner free throw gave U-M its first lead of the game, 38-37 at the 16:15 mark.
Minnesota answered with a 13-2 run and took a 50-40 lead with 11:15 left. For most of the final 12 minutes, Michigan use a zone defense to better contain Minnesota’s dribble penetration.
Down 54-47, Matthews went to the line with 6:51 left. Matthews, a 55 percent foul shooter, had made just 2-of-8 free throws to that point. He made them both, to the delight of the Crisler crowd, and smiled on his way back on defense.
Robinson followed with a drive to the hoop, Matthews found a cutting Simpson for a layup, and Matthews dropped one in from close to make it 56-55. Simpson’s steal led to Robinson’s fast break layup to give Michigan a 57-56 advantage.
Minnesota never trailed in the first half and led by as many as six, including 34-28 after Washington’s sixth basket with 1:33 left. The freshman guard entered the game averaging 6.9 points, though he was coming off a career-high 15 points Tuesday against Iowa. He scored 13 in the first half off the bench Saturday.
After Matthews scored his first points of the game at the foul line — he’d made his way to the basket several times but couldn’t convert, finishing 0-for-6 in the first half — Isaiah Livers’ put-back basket made it 34-32 Minnesota at halftime.
Michigan’s ball movement was not particularly crisp in the first half. The Wolverines took 17 3s and 15 2-point shots. They made five 3s and were just 34 percent from the field.
Michigan had another slow start offensively, trailing 8-2 before Simpson’s layup with 15:34 left. Minnesota was without starter Amir Coffey, who missed his second straight game with an injured shoulder, but it still had reigning All-Big Ten point guard Mason, and he scored nine of Minnesota’s first 10 points.
Wagner hit 3s on consecutive possessions to draw Michigan within one, 22-21, at the 8:47 mark. The Wolverines’ defense has thrived on forcing difficult 2-point attempts this season. For the most part on Saturday that’s what they did, but the Gophers drained contested pull-ups and runners.
Michigan has won 11 of the last 12 in the series. Minnesota’s last win in Ann Arbor was in 2011.
The No. 24 Wolverines visit Northwestern on Tuesday.