Michigan basketball will play Texas Southern in the first round of NCAA tournament

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Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read
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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.

[ Michigan gets used to life in NCAA tournament bubble: 'I'm embracing the suck' ]

Mar 18, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Texas Southern Tigers guard Michael Weathers (20) dribbles past Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers forward Mezie Offurum (13) during the first half in the First Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Mar 18, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Texas Southern Tigers guard Michael Weathers (20) dribbles past Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers forward Mezie Offurum (13) during the first half in the First Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

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