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Book the rematch! Michigan cruises, meets MSU in Big Ten semifinals

March 2, 2018 GMT

New York – Michigan was craving another crack at Nebraska.

The Wolverines got their long-awaited shot on Friday and didn’t miss, using another stifling defensive effort and a dominant first half to roll to a 77-58 victory in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson shouldered the load and combined for 57 points for Michigan (26-7), which avenged its 72-52 regular-season loss two months ago in Nebraska.

Abdur-Rahkman finished with 21 points and went 5-for-5 from 3-point range, Wagner recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Robinson scored 16 with four made 3-pointers.

With the win, Michigan advances to face rival and top-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday.

BOX SCORE: Michigan 77, Nebraska 58

Isaiah Roby scored 18, James Palmer Jr. 16 and Glynn Watson Jr. 10 for Nebraska (22-10), which shot 30.2 percent (16-for-53) from the field.

After Nebraska cut down Michigan’s 18-point first-half lead to 10 at the break, the Cornhuskers continued to whittle it down following five free throws to pull within 40-33 with 14:02 left in the second half.

Michigan responded with a 16-4 run that was highlighted by a pair of clutch 3-pointers by Abdur-Rahkman and another deep ball by Robinson to extend its lead to 53-37 at the 9:52 mark.

The two captains teamed up once again to put the game out of reach with back-to-back 3-pointers to put Michigan in complete control, 61-42, with 6:02 left.

Nebraska mustered a 7-0 run in less than a minute to make it 61-49 at the 4:28 mark, but Abdur-Rahkman snapped the spurt with two free throws and the Wolverines led by at least 12 points the rest of the way.

Wagner set the tone for Michigan by scoring its first eight points and kick-starting an 18-3 run with a 3-pointer as the Wolverines raced out to a 23-12 lead with 7:33 left in the first half.

Following Wagner’s deep ball, Abdur-Rahkman and Robinson each followed with a 3-pointer and Robinson scored on a fast-break layup as Michigan started the flurry with 11 straight points. Wagner added a dunk and Zavier Simpson scored on a driving layup to cap the spurt and put Michigan in control.

During the stretch, Michigan’s defense contested every shot and forced the Cornhuskers to miss 17 of 18 shots.

Michigan kept pushing and used a 7-0 spurt that featured another Wagner dunk and Robinson 3-pointer to extend the lead to 33-15 at the 2:56 mark.

As well as the Wolverines played, Nebraska chipped away at the deficit and closed the half on a 9-1 run. Palmer snapped a nearly eight-minute field goal drought with an and-1 layup and added four free throws in the final minute to trim Michigan’s lead to 34-24 at the break.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

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