March 16, 2019 / 9:40 PM / a month ago

No. 10 Michigan mauls Minnesota to reach Big Ten final

Isaiah Livers scored a game-high 21 points Saturday as No. 10 Michigan cruised into the finals of the Big Ten tournament with a 76-49 rout of Minnesota at the United Center in Chicago.

Mar 16, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Colin Castleton (11) defends Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Jarvis Omersa (21) during the first half in the Big Ten conference tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Zavier Simpson had another brilliant game for the third-seeded Wolverines, bagging 15 points and nine assists in 26 minutes. Simpson has 20 assists in two tournament games and just one turnover.

Ignas Brazdeikis added 13 points for Michigan (28-5), which set a conference record by winning its 10th straight Big Ten tourney game. The Wolverines canned 51.6 percent of their field goal tries and drew assists on 21 of their 32 made buckets.

Amir Coffey scored 14 points and Jordan Murphy added 10 for the seventh-seeded Golden Gophers (21-13), but Minnesota ran out of magic in its third game in less than 48 hours. Minnesota should still earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Playing its second game in about 18 hours — its tournament debut occurred late Friday night with a 74-53 blowout of Iowa — Michigan never trailed. The game was tied 13-13 about nine minutes into the first half before the Wolverines took control.

Beginning with Livers’ jumper, Michigan went on a game-changing 18-2 tear that climaxed in Simpson’s 3-pointer off a Gophers turnover for a 31-15 advantage with 3:34 left in the half. Simpson capped the half with a transition bucket as time expired to make it 38-19.

Minnesota put together one spasm of offensive competence in the second half, hitting its first five shots. But it meant little because Michigan kept converting as well. Eventually, the Gophers went back to missing and the lead grew to insurmountable levels.

Livers’ 3-ball with 8:14 left boosted the margin to 66-34, and substitutes from both teams played the majority of the final six minutes.

The Wolverines and Michigan State will square off for the third time in 22 days in Sunday’s final. The Spartans won the first two matchups.

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