It was a back-and-forth affair in Ann Arbor initially, but the hometown program found a way to get past the pesky opposing squad and advance to the second round on the National Invitational Tournament, as the Michigan Wolverines (18-15) took down the Toledo Rockets (27-8) by a final score of 90-80 on Tuesday evening.
The Rockets, champions of the MAC regular season, went out to a fast start, up 16-10 at the first timeout and expanding it out to 27-16 further into the period. The Wolverines rebuffed Toledo’s advances after the 10-minute remaining mark, pulling the contest to a tie game in the waning seconds before Toledo sunk a two-pointer to take the 42-40 halftime lead.
Michigan came out on fire in the second half and never relented, firing off three-straight three-pointers to open the half to steal back the lead, then keeping Toledo at arm’s length through the rest of the contest, coasting comfortably to the 10-point victory.
The Wolverines were hot all night, going 56 percent from the three-point line and 58 percent overall from the field. Kobe Bufkin’s 23 points paced Michigan, with backcourt mates Joey Baker (21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 5-8 from three-point range) and Dug McDaniel (16 points, including 4-of-6 from three-point range) also leading the U of M attack. Hunter Dickenson was a rebound short of a triple-double, with 19 points and nine rebounds.
For Toledo, all but one starter scored in double-digits, with Dante Maddox Jr. struggling on 1-of-5 shooting. Setric Milliner Jr. was the leading points scorer for the Rockets, with 19 points and five rebounds. Raheim Moss was lights-out from all over the floor, shooting 6-of-8 and finishing with 15 points, three rebounds, a steal and an assist. JT Shumate (18 points) led the team with three blocks, while RayJ Dennis struggled to a 15-point finish after a 5-of-19 night from the floor, including 1-of-5 from three.
The Rockets are once again sent home in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament, falling to 5-13 overall in their apperances. They’ve made the NIT four times over the last five seasons, but have not won a game in the tourney since 2001.
Michigan will either travel to face Vanderbilt in Nashville or stay home and host Yale depending on the results of that contest.