(Derrick Walton, Jr. hoists the 2K Classic championship trophy with his Michigan teammates and coaches – Photo by Jason Schott)
Michigan put on quite a show on Friday night at Madison Square Garden to win the 2K Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project with a 76-54 win over SMU.
Michigan’s Zak Irvin was the MVP of the 2K Classic, as he had 16 points, six assists, and five rebounds in their win Thursday night over Marquette, and scored 16 points again on Friday night on 6-13 shooting, 2-7 on threes, with six rebounds, and five assists.
Pittsburgh earned third place in the tournament as they beat Marquette 78-75 in the Consolation Game.
Michigan 76, SMU 54
Michigan dominated this one from the start, as a Moritz Wagner three-pointer gave them a 16-7 lead 5:35 into the game.
Michigan maintained a seven-point edge throughout the first half, and from when it was 26-19 at the 6:46 mark, they closed the half on an 18-6 run to take a massive 44-25 lead into halftime.
The first half ended with an exclamation point for Michigan, as Zak Irvin with two seconds left.
In the second half, the closest SMU got was 15 points, at 48-33, at the 16:49 mark on a Jarrey Foster tip-in off a missed jumper.
Michigan went on a 5-0 run to give themselves a 20-point edge, which they maintained the rest of the way. The Wolverines led by as many as 29 points, 73-44, on Irvin free throws with 5:20 left.
Derrick Walton, Jr. led Michigan with 23 points, including 14 in the first half, on 7-for-13 from the field, and all of his baskets were from behind the arc. He also had six assists and three rebounds.
Walton Jr. said of winning the 2K Classic, “Feels great. We are champions at The Garden. It is exciting to start the season 4-0 but we have to keep the ball rolling.”
Walton, Jr. said of their offense, “We trusted our offense. We have so many weapons in our system so it is hard to take away everything. Tonight was a great example of what Michigan basketball looks like.”
Irvin said of the ball movement, “For us we always talk about don’t let the ball stick. We have to keep that going and keep playing unselfish basketball.”
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 12 points on 5-8 shooting, 2-7 on threes, two rebounds, and two assists.
Mark Donnal had nine points on 4-5 shooting, 1-1 on threes, five rebounds, and an assist off the bench.
Michigan Head coach John Beilein said of his seniors, including Walton Jr., Irvin, and Donnal, “The seniors have provided big leadership for this developing team. I am proud they are up there with that trophy and how they played the last few days.”
Beilein said of getting big non-conference wins, “Everything is valuable. In your mid majors you get one shot in March. We have three shots and one of them is non-conference games. So this is four of them, nine more to go. it is a pretty strong schedule but we make it stronger by getting these wins.”
SMU’s Semi Ojeleye was held in check, but still led the team with 13 points on 5-16 from the field, 2-5 on threes, nine rebounds, and an assist.
Irvin said of Olejeye, “He is a great player. We knew he was going to come out aggressive so it was a good matchup with DJ (Wilson) Credit to DJ.”
Beilein said of SMU, “They are a good team. With 24 hours of prep there isn’t a lot of time to change things. I think both teams are hard to guard on one day’s prep; any team is. They played a tough game tonight – for us, it was hard. We ran our packages that we run against teams that play their style. When we saw things work we dialed it up more. We had to make the shots too.”
Pittsburgh 78, Marquette 75
In the Consolation Game, Pittsburgh used a big second half performance to beat Marquette 78-75.
Marquette, led by Andrew Rowsey’s 10 points off the bench, led 44-33 at halftime.
In the early part of the second half, Marquette maintained that edge, as they took a 59-49 lead on a Sam Hauser three-pointer with 13:17 left.
Pitt answered with a 10-0 run over the next few minutes to tie it, with Michael Young accounting for all the points in the comeback.
Rowsey responded by draining back-to-back threes to give SMU a 65-62 lead at the 8:58 mark.
Pitt finally took the lead, 66-65 on a drive down the lane by Jamel Artis at the 8:19 mark.
Pitt was leading 75-72 when some controversy occurred with 2:24 left. Rowsey went up for a three, but he might have not gotten the shot off in time. A foul was called on Chris Jones, and Rowsey got three free throws, which he made to tie the game at 75.
Artis got to the line with 1:03 left and made one of two free throws to make it 76-75 Pitt. They forced a turnover by Rowsey at the 48-second mark, and Rowsey missed a layup with 20 seconds left. Artis made a couple more free throws with six seconds left to seal the 78-75 win.
Pitt was led by Michael Young, who had 30 points on 11-for-20 from the field, 1-2 on threes, with eight rebounds and two assists. Jamel Artis had 21 points on 7-for-15 shooting, 2-6 on threes, with seven rebounds, and three assists. Chris Jones had 13 points on 5-7 shooting, four rebounds, and four assists.
Marquette was led by Andrew Rowsey, who had 20 points on 5-12 shooting, 3-7 on threes, two rebounds, and two assists. Duane Wilson (5-7 FG, 1-2 threes) and Sam Hauser (4-8 FG, 2-6 threes) had 11 points each.
Pitt Head Coach Kevin Stallings said of the second half, in which they outscored Marquette 45-31, “Obviously, defensively, in the second half we were a much more energized defensive team. Defense won the game for us. I am proud the way they dug in and showed pride in the second half. We are going to have to play that way to have a great year.”
Young said of the second half. “Back up against the wall, we have to play. Being seniors we said it was now or never. After the second half, we can’t get the game back. We can’t get any game back. We wanted to be aggressive and lead my team.
“I told him (Jamel Artis) the second half team is the team we need to be every game. A 40-minute team. Make shots, play defense and knock down free-throws. If we can be that team we can be pretty good.”
Stallings said of the game, “We talked all day and all night that someone was leaving here (the 2K Classic) with a donut and we didn’t want it to be us. Marquette had their way in the first half. Second half, we dug in and got better defensively. That was the difference for us. We did a better job on the drives. Another big key was that we were able to neutralize the big guy (Luke Fischer) a little bit. He had to guard Mike (Young) and Mike was able to draw focus on him.”