Men's Basketball Sports

Wolverines end Cougars’ tournament dreams with buzzer-beater

All eyes were on senior guard Rob Gray Jr. after he scored a career-high 39 points against San Diego State in the tournament’s first round. Gray led the Cougars with 23 points in the loss against Michigan. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

After a heart-racing game against San Diego, Houston had another thriller in its 64-63 defeat by the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA tournament’s second round on Saturday.

Houston started on the right foot with junior forward Breaon Brady scoring a pair of layups to take the lead.

Michigan started extremely cold and made none of its first six shots, all of them 3-pointers, and only a single free throw in the first six minutes.

The Cougars’ guards struggled early due to the Wolverines’ size advantage, and most of the team’s scoring in the first ten minutes came from the forwards.

Michigan senior guard Duncan Robinson led them nine points off the bench in the first half, while Houston kept most of Michigan’s starters contained.

Senior guard Wes VanBeck sparked Houston’s offense off the bench with a three after he missed the entire AAC tournament with an injury.

VanBeck saw more play than usual, partly because he is the tallest guard on the Cougars’ roster. Also, alternative guards, including junior Corey Davis Jr. and sophomore Armoni Brooks, have been shooting poorly.

While defense was strong, shooting was incredibly poor from both teams.

Houston shot with 31.3 percent accuracy while Michigan had 30 percent accuracy from the field as the teams went to the half tied at 28 points.

Senior guard Rob Gray scored eight points in the first half and shot with 18 percent accuracy, but the team was still able to hang on.

A positive for the Cougars: They fouled less than typical this season. Michigan did not enter the bonus until six minutes remained in the half, and Houston only had eight fouls at that point.

Houston started the second half with four points but Brady lost his cool and picked up two fouls as Michigan took back the lead.

Both teams played chippy and picked up three fouls apiece in the first four minutes of the second half.

After that, everyone played a bit softer, allowing shooters more room. Shooting accuracy increased for both teams.

In response, both teams started playing rougher once again and were in the bonus in the latter part of the half.

In the final stretch, Robinson, who was leading the team in scoring, fouled out, but other Wolverines stepped up.

On the other side of the ball, senior forward Devin Davis stepped up as well as he scored 17 points and made 9 of 12 free throws.

But a pair of missed free throws by Davis left the game at 63-61 with a few seconds remaining, giving Michigan a chance to tie or win it.

With time running out, freshman guard Jordan Poole nailed a three at the buzzer to give the Wolverines the win.

Michigan advances to face North Carolina next weekend, while Houston will head home for the season.

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