Michigan overcomes 15-point deficit, beats UCLA 78-69 in OT
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(AP) John Beilein has coached a lot of college basketball, but not even he could figure out how his Michigan Wolverines were able to beat UCLA on Saturday.
Moritz Wagner scored 23 points and Charles Matthews added 20, helping Michigan overcome a 15-point second-half deficit to shock the Bruins 78-69 in overtime.
The Wolverines (8-3) won despite a dreadful shooting performance from the free-throw line.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Beilein said. “We go 8-for-22 from the foul line and win a game. We did everything we could to play inefficient basketball.”
Coming off Monday’s 71-62 loss at Ohio State, after letting a big lead slip away against the Buckeyes, Michigan flipped the script on UCLA.
“When we really needed to suck it up, we got it done,” Beilein said. “I’m hoping it’s a huge benchmark for our team as we go forward.”
The Wolverines battled back Saturday after falling behind 46-31 in the second half, getting within 64-63 when Zavier Simpson stole Aaron Holiday’s pass and made a layup with 18 seconds left in regulation.
“I’m always active on defense,” said Simpson, who finished with 15 points and four steals. “I knew his passes were getting lazy. I used my wing span, got a deflection and put us in a better position.”
Following G.G. Goloman’s free throw for UCLA, Eli Brooks was fouled on a drive and hit both free throws to tie the game at 65 with 10 seconds left. The Bruins (7-2) had a final chance in regulation, but Prince Ali missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Michigan began overtime with consecutive 3-pointers from Simpson and Matthews to gain momentum. Matthews’ jumper pushed the lead to 75-67 with 2:11 left.
Holiday finished with 27 points and seven assists for the Bruins, who had their four-game win streak snapped. Thomas Welsh added 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“Give them credit,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “They made a huge run when they were down 15 and a lot of credit goes to how hard and smart their guys played.”
UCLA: After their home game on Wednesday against Montana was canceled because of area wildfires, the Bruins lost a tough one to Michigan. Now, UCLA has another layoff before hosting Cincinnati on Dec. 16. The Bruins’ only other setback came Nov. 20 against Creighton.
Michigan: Coming off the Ohio State loss, the Wolverines picked up a potential season-changing win against the Bruins. Michigan has another challenging game ahead at Texas on Tuesday, before facing Detroit Mercy, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville.
“It’s a long season, you have to learn from those games,” Matthews said of the Ohio State defeat. “At the same time, you have to have a short memory. I told my teammates, `Lets stay together and worry about the next game at hand.'”
TROUBLE AT THE LINE
Matthews and Wagner combined to shoot 2 of 13 from the charity stripe. Matthews was 2 of 10.
“In practice, it’s been really good,” Beilein said of Matthews’ free-throw shooting. “He has to get used to being in those situations. He’s been average, maybe a slight below average, but he hasn’t been poor like that going in.”
UCLA: Hosts Cincinnati on Dec. 16.
Michigan: At Texas on Tuesday.