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NCAA Tournament: Jordan Poole’s buzzer-beating three sends Michigan to Sweet 16

WICHITA, Kan. — Michigan freshman Jordan Poole drained a long three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the third-seeded Wolverines a heart-stopping 64-63 victory over Houston in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional on Saturday night.

Houston’s Devin Davis had a chance to seal the win, but he missed a pair of foul shots with 3.6 seconds left. The Wolverines (30-7) called timeout to set up a final play. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman found Poole on the wing, and the shot hit nothing but net.

The officials reviewed it to make sure, but Poole had clearly gotten the shot away.

“We work on that play thousands of times in practice,” Poole said. “We executed it perfectly, especially from the inbounds pass . . . [Abdur-Rahkman] had the confidence to find me and I just knocked the shot down.”

After the ball swished, Poole ran down the court and the celebration was on. “I was always thinking that if I hit a shot like that, I didn’t want to get tackled,” Poole said, “so I was kind of just trying to avoid everybody. But I gave up and they tackled me and it was an amaxing experience.”

Abdur-Rahkman and Moe Wagner scored 12 points apiece for Michigan, but it was the unheralded freshman who stole the show. Poole’s flair for the dramatic earned coach John Beilein’s team a trip to Los Angeles for a Sweet 16 matchup against North Carolina or Texas A&M.

Rob Gray scored 23 points and Davis finished with 17 for the sixth-seeded Cougars (27-8), who were trying to reach their first Sweet 16 since the last of the Phi Slama Jama teams went to the Final Four in 1984.

They just about did it. Davis gave the Cougars the lead when he made two free throws with 44.1 seconds left. He pushed the advantage to 63-61 when he made the second of two more foul shots with 24.9 seconds to go. Abdur-Rahkman and Charles Matthews came up empty at the other end for Michigan, and Davis pulled down a crucial rebound. But after being fouled, he missed both from the line.

The close finish was hardly surprising — there were 17 lead changes and 12 ties, including a 28-28 tie at halftime.

After his huge performance against San Diego State, the Wolverines were wary of Gray. They blanketed Houston’s star on the perimeter, cut off lanes to the basket and held him to just eight points and 2-for-11 shooting in the first half.

New York Sports