Wagner comes up big as Michigan edges Texas 53-50
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Moe Wagner slapped at the ball with his right hand, and it popped straight up in the air.
For a moment, it looked like a possible foul.
“As far as I know, I blocked it,” Wagner said.
The officials concurred, and Michigan held on for a 53-50 victory over Texas on Tuesday night. Wagner gave the Wolverines the lead on a putback with 18.8 seconds remaining, and then the sophomore blocked a shot by Eric Davis Jr. at the other end.
Wagner led the Wolverines (7-2) with 15 points, and the 6-foot-11 forward from Germany made the biggest plays down the stretch. When Zak Irvin missed a driving layup, Wagner came up with the rebound and scored to put Michigan up 51-50.
“I thought he was terrific,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “I thought he was the best player on the floor tonight.”
The Wolverines hounded Texas (4-4) on the next possession, and Davis drove down the left edge of the lane. Wagner blocked his path, and the Texas guard tried to force a tough shot over him. Wagner contested it , and the ball never made it to the basket.
“Could’ve gotten a better one,” Davis said. “Any one of us could’ve taken it.”
Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman ripped the loose ball away for Michigan, then made two free throws with 2.5 seconds to play. The Longhorns could only manage a desperation shot from around midcourt.
Tevin Mack led Texas with 18 points, 13 coming in the first half.
D.J. Wilson scored 13 points for Michigan, and Duncan Robinson added 12.
Texas: This was the first true road game of the season for the Longhorns, and they nearly pulled it out in a tight, defensive struggle. Texas held Irvin to only three points after he entered as Michigan’s top scorer. The Longhorns shot only 38.5 percent from the field, which was ultimately their undoing.
Michigan: The Wolverines let a home game slip away against Virginia Tech last week, and they had to scrap their way to this victory. Michigan wants to become a better defensive team this season, and in that sense, this was a positive step — especially on the key possession at the end. The Wolverines, who had fouls to give, played aggressively, and Wagner came up with the block.
“With Moe’s emergence right now — and he’s a long ways away — but it gives us another way to play,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Michigan didn’t get much scoring from its two senior starters. Irvin was scoreless until his 3-pointer with 4:03 remaining tied it at 48. After that shot went in, he raised both his arms skyward in apparent relief.
Derrick Walton had only seven points and five turnovers for the Wolverines. He needs nine more points to reach 1,000.
“You don’t see us win many where it’s just about — our defense was gritty,” Beilein said. “It was tough in the last two minutes. Everything it wasn’t in the Virginia Tech last two or three minutes, it was tonight, where our kids just sat down and guarded. Nobody could make a shot. It was not a pretty offensive game, but we got done what we had to get done.”
Texas: The Longhorns return home to face Long Beach State on Saturday.
Michigan: The Wolverines take on another big-name opponent when they play at No. 2 UCLA on Saturday. The unbeaten Bruins will be Michigan’s last road opponent before conference play.
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