Wolverines overcome 15-point deficit, beat UCLA 78-69 in OT
By CHRIS NELSEN
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) John Beilein has coached a lot of college basketball, but not even he could figure out how his Michigan Wolverines were able to beat UCLA on Saturday.
The Wolverines (8-3) won despite a dreadful shooting performance from the free-throw line.
"I've never seen anything like this," Beilein said. "We go 8-for-22 from the foul line and win a game. We did everything we could to play inefficient basketball."
Coming off Monday's 71-62 loss at Ohio State, after letting a big lead slip away against the Buckeyes, Michigan flipped the script on UCLA.
"When we really needed to suck it up, we got it done," Beilein said. "I'm hoping it's a huge benchmark for our team as we go forward."
The Wolverines battled back Saturday after falling behind 46-31 in the second half, getting within 64-63 when Zavier Simpson stole Aaron Holiday's pass and made a layup with 18 seconds left in regulation.
"I'm always active on defense," said Simpson, who finished with 15 points and four steals. "I knew his passes were getting lazy. I used my wing span, got a deflection and put us in a better position."
Following G.G. Goloman's free throw for UCLA, Eli Brooks was fouled on a drive and hit both free throws to tie the game at 65 with 10 seconds left. The Bruins (7-2) had a final chance in regulation, but Prince Ali missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Michigan began overtime with consecutive 3-pointers from Simpson and Matthews to gain momentum. Matthews' jumper pushed the lead to 75-67 with 2:11 left.
Holiday finished with 27 points and seven assists for the Bruins, who had their four-game win streak snapped. Thomas Welsh added 22 points and 10 rebounds.
"Give them credit," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "They made a huge run when they were down 15 and a lot of credit goes to how hard and smart their guys played."
UCLA: After their home game on Wednesday against Montana was canceled because of area wildfires, the Bruins lost a tough one to Michigan. Now, UCLA has another layoff before hosting Cincinnati on Dec. 16. The Bruins' only other setback came Nov. 20 against Creighton.
Michigan: Coming off the Ohio State loss, the Wolverines picked up a potential season-changing win against the Bruins. Michigan has another challenging game ahead at Texas on Tuesday, before facing Detroit Mercy, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville.
"It's a long season, you have to learn from those games," Matthews said of the Ohio State defeat. "At the same time, you have to have a short memory. I told my teammates, `Lets stay together and worry about the next game at hand.'"
TROUBLE AT THE LINE
Matthews and Wagner combined to shoot 2 of 13 from the charity stripe. Matthews was 2 of 10.
"In practice, it's been really good," Beilein said of Matthews' free-throw shooting. "He has to get used to being in those situations. He's been average, maybe a slight below average, but he hasn't been poor like that going in."
UCLA: Hosts Cincinnati on Dec. 16.
Michigan: At Texas on Tuesday.
Updated December 9, 2017