March 17, 2018
WICHITA, Kan. – Jordan Poole’s splay-legged buzzer-beater gave Michigan an improbable 64-63 victory against Houston, sending the Wolverines into the Sweet 16.
NCAA tournament 2018: Michigan stuns Houston with buzzer-beater by Jordan Poole
Michigan will face either North Carolina or Texas A&M next week in Los Angeles.
After a game when neither team executed very much very well, Poole’s winner came at the end of a well-executed final play. After Houston’s Devin Davis missed two free throws with 3.9 seconds left, Michigan called timeout to set up the sequence.
The inbounds pass from Isaiah Livers came to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman near midcourt. He took two dribbles and found Poole deep on the right wing. The freshman guard’s shot found nothing but net, touching off a celebration that saw Poole jump onto a chair on the Michigan bench and scream at the Wolverines’ crowd.
"I saw everybody celebrating," Poole said later, "and I always thought if I hit a shot like that, I didn't want to get tackled. So I tried to avoid everybody."
As Michigan players and staff members celebrated, Davis, distraught, was hugged by a Houston coach.
"I'm just trying to appreciate the moment of what just happened," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "When he makes that shot, I'm making sure the shot got off. I'm managing my team. I can't even look at the celebration."
Both teams had missed earlier chances to win it in a foul-plagued affair. In the final 10 seconds, Wolverines guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman drove past Houston’s Rob Gray into the lane, but missed a running bank shot. Davis pulled down the defensive rebound and was fouled, but he missed the free throws. Davis, a senior forward, made three of six attempts in the final 44 seconds.
Gray finished with 23 points to lead all scorers, but both teams struggled against tough defense. Houston shot just 37 percent. But Michigan won despite shooting only 35.6 percent and hitting only 8-of-30 three-pointers.
"Sports is a great metaphor for life sometimes. It's not always fair," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought our team deserved to win that game. For 39 minutes, 57 seconds, I thought we were the better team. Credit their kid for hitting a big shot. It was a big, big shot he hit."
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