BASKETBALL: Michigan Marches on After Rolling Past Montana in NCAA Tournament

DES MOINES, Iowa — The No. 2-seeded and No. 8-ranked University of Michigan men’s basketball team marched to a 74-55 victory over No. 15 seed Montana in its West Regional first-round NCAA Tournament game Thursday night (March 21) at Wells Fargo Arena.

With the win, the Wolverines advance to the second round and will play No. 10 seed Florida on Saturday (March 23) at 4:15 p.m. CDT.

The Wolverines shot 49 percent from the floor and held the Grizzlies to 33.3 percent shooting while forcing 10 Montana turnovers. Four Wolverines scored in double digits with senior Charles Matthewsleading the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh career double-double.

Freshman Ignas Brazdeikis scored 14 points, while junior Jon Teske scored 11 and sophomore Jordan Poole added 10.

Junior Zavier Simpson notched 10 assists to set a single-season school record of eight games with 10 assists or more. Simpson has handed out 10 assists or more in six of the last nine games and is tied for seventh on Michigan’s all-time assists list with 421 career helpers.

The Wolverines got out to an early lead over Montana, as they converted on five of their first seven shots, which included a Matthews dunk and a three-pointer from sophomore Eli Brooks to take a 17-6 advantage with 10:57 remaining in the first half. After the timeout, sophomore Isaiah Livers blocked a shot on the defensive end and Simpson connected with Teske underneath to put Michigan up, 19-6, in the first half.

The Wolverines put together another quick burst of six points followed by a big alley-oop dunk by Brazdeikis off a fast-break pass from Poole to extend Michigan’s lead to 15, 23-8.

Montana hit five of its last seven shots to end the first half, but the Michigan lead was too much to overcome in the opening 20 minutes as the Wolverines held a 34-21 at halftime. U-M shot 52 percent in the first half, including 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting from Matthews.

The Grizzlies came out of the break to score the first five points of the second half before Michigan went on a 10-0 run over a span of 1:58, capped off by a Teske dunk off a pass from Simpson.

Michigan held Montana without a field goal for 4:10 and kept the Grizzlies scoreless for 2:54 to to lead the Wolverines to a 50-32 advantage with 10:39 left to play. Later in the half, Michigan went on a 12-2 run and extended its lead to 24 points, 66-42, on a three-pointer from Livers with 6:01 remaining.

The Wolverines continued to build on their lead before clearing the bench in the closing minutes. Montana netted the final six points of the game, but it was not enough to overcome the Michigan lead.

Michigan will take on No. 10 seed Florida on Saturday (March 23) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 4:15 p.m. CDT at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The game will be broadcast on CBS.


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