Derrick Walton has been a marvelous story so far in March. But, if anyone though the Wolverines were a one-man show, Sunday’s 73-69 upset of No. 2 seed Louisville should put those thoughts to rest.
On a day when most believed the senior point guard would need to carry this team on his back, Walton was largely ineffective for large swaths of this game. He had just 10 points on 3 of 13 shooting and hit just 2 of 7 three-point attempts on the day.
It should’ve been season over for a team that needs three-pointers to fall in order to win. That was allegedly the case against a long Louisville team as well, but instead Walton was picked up by teammates all game long.
That’s not to say he didn’t have any importance to the game, far from it. After all, he hit a crucial three-pointer to put the Wolverines up 61-57 with 5:50 to play. Walton also gave Michigan the crucial four-point lead at 69-65 with 31 seconds to play.
However, the Wolverines and Walton aren’t in position to pull the upset if it weren’t for the rest of the starting lineup coming up huge as Walton struggled.
As Michigan continues its incredible March run, this time it was the big men getting the job done.
Sophomore forward Moritz Wagner was the star of the show on Saturday, pouring in a career-high 26 points on an incredible 11 of 14 shooting from the field. It was all Wagner, all the time in the second half on Saturday.
Anything and everything he wanted down low, he got. That is good news for a player that was so important for most of Michigan’s February turnaround and had cooled off so much over the past two weeks.
Wagner put up 15 of his 26 points in the second half alone, leading his team to shooting 63 percent from the field in the second half.
He wasn’t the only big man to come up big in this contest either. D.J. Wilson also showed up huge in the second half, as he put up 11 of his 17 points in the second half as well.
Those 11 points also included four straight made free throws in the final 17 seconds of the game to salt the victory away for Michigan.
Michigan has now reeled off six straight victories, and it has managed to get it done in a variety of ways. No longer will teams see the Wolverines as just Derrick Walton and some others coming along for the ride.
This team is still finding a variety of ways to get it done heading in to the Sweet 16 in the Midwest regional.
It is only fitting that this miracle story is heading to Kansas City.