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Michigan basketball is officially playing Texas Southern in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament.
The Tigers beat fellow No. 16 seed Mount St. Mary's in a play-in game Thursday evening, 60-52.
Mount St. Mary's led by 10 at halftime but coughed up the lead almost immediately in the second half when Texas Southern opened with an 11-0 run. Mount St. Mary's countered with an 8-0 run to re-take the lead — only for Texas Southern to come up with an 8-0 run of its own.
The game was back-and-forth for the rest of the half, but Texas Southern's Karl Nicholas grabbed a key offensive rebound with just over two minutes remaining and scored on a put-back dunk to extend his team's lead to four.
The Tigers were led by forward John Walker, who scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds — four on offense.
That was a key theme for Texas Southern, which came down with 11 offensive rebounds — grabbing 31.4% of its misses — to overcome a 22 of 57 (38.6%) performance from the field. The Tigers attempted eight more field goals than Mount St. Mary's and hit some timely 3s, finishing 6 of 14 from downtown, despite entering the game shooting 27.7% from outside — sixth-worst in the nation.
Leading scorer Michael Weathers scored just eight points on 3 of 11 shooting but made both of his 3-point attempts. Nicholas, the third-leading scorer, had just four points on 2 of 7 shooting, but the poor shooting performances from Weathers and Nicholas were offset by Walker's big game and a key performance from Jordan Gilliam, who scored 12 points and hit two 3s.
Mount St. Mary's, which plays at the second-slowest pace in the nation, looked to have control of the game at halftime after playing suffocating defense in the first 20 minutes. Texas Southern hit just 8 of 30 shots in the first half and struggled to space the floor and score over Mount St. Mary's length.
But the Tigers closed the gap quickly out of halftime, withstood a punch from Mount St. Mary's and generated key stops down the stretch. Their reward is a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Wolverines, who won the outright Big Ten title and secured the final No. 1 seed.
History is on Michigan's side: Only one No. 1 seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed, when Virginia infamously lost to UMBC by 20 points on March 16, 2018.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball will play Texas Southern in NCAA tournament