Vanderbilt basketball beat Michigan, 66-65, at Memorial Gymnasium in the second round of the NIT on Saturday and will advance to the quarterfinals.
Michigan (18-16) turned the ball over on three straight possessions in the final minute of the game, allowing Vanderbilt (22-14) to take the lead.
Michigan was without two of its top players in wing Jett Howard and guard Kobe Bufkin due to injuries. Instead, the Wolverines relied on center Hunter Dickinson and point guard Dug McDaniel to generate offense. Vanderbilt was without Liam Robbins due to injury and Myles Stute due to transfer. The absences on both sides turned the game into a low-scoring affair despite both teams typically being better on offense than defense.
Foul trouble began to hurt Vanderbilt in the second half and the Commodores struggled to rebound against a bigger Michigan team. The Commodores also had an off shooting day but managed to stay in the game thanks to the contributions of Ezra Manjon and Tyrin Lawrence.
Vanderbilt will host the winner between UAB and Morehead State on Tuesday or Wednesday.
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Game of runs
Vanderbilt got off to a fast start in the early portion of the game. After Michigan scored the first five points, the Commodores ripped off a 17-0 run.
But after the Wolverines called a timeout, they ripped off a 15-3 run of their own to tie the game. After that point, the teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half as Michigan took a lead into halftime.
Vanderbilt struggled to get production out of its bench all game. The absence of Stute, who has entered the transfer portal, hurt as the Commodores were inconsistent making shots on the perimeter. Vanderbilt got just six points from its bench.
Michigan, too, didn’t get much out of its bench. The Wolverines primarily stuck with their starters, playing just eight players all game.
Vanderbilt was initially able to limit the impact of Dickinson offensively. At first, the Wolverines seemed to be trying to run their offense through him and he struggled to convert on his opportunities. But in the second half, Dickinson began to find a grove and made life tough for the Commodores’ bigs.
Dickinson did play an active role on the boards as he led Michigan to a large rebounding advantage. The Wolverines started four players 6-foot-7 or taller compared to just two for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores also struggled to defend Dickinson without fouling as Malik Dia, Quentin Millora-Brown and Emmanuel Ansong all got into foul trouble in the second half.