|Michigan's Derrick Walton, Jr. looks to make a play. Photo by Jason Schott.
In the 2K Classic Benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, SMU came back to beat Pittsburgh, while Michigan dominated Marquette in the nightcap.
On Friday SMU will meet Michigan in the championship game at 7:00 pm, while Pitt will meet Marquette in the consolation game at 4:30 pm.
SMU 76, Pittsburgh 67
SMU, led by Semi Ojeleye, who had 24 points and five rebounds, had a dominant second half to outlast Pittsburgh.
Pitt led 33-31 at halftime, and 37-35 in the opening minutes of the second half.
SMU responded with a 10-2 run capped by a Shake Milton three-pointer at the 14:43 mark of the second half to open up a 47-39 lead.
They maintained it and a pair of Ben Moore free throws made it 61-51 SMU with 6:57 left.
Pitt responded with an 8-2 run to cut it to four, 63-59, with 4:53 remaining.
SMU would not back down, and an Ojeleye lay-up with 58 seconds remaining made it 73-64.
For Olejeye, this was his first action in 23 months, and he said of what it was like to be back out there, "It's been great. Just the confidence the coach has in me and my teammates, that really helps me play well. The system we have in about sharing the ball and that's why I get good shots."
Olejeye said of what was the difference in the second half, "Staying confident. Nothing changed in the locker room. Everybody just acted like it was normal so I didn't think about what the stats were. I just kept going with the same stuff that I just tried to do in the first half. I just think I hit a few more shots."
In addition to the 24 points from Ojeleye, Milton had 14 points on 5-10 from the field, 2-5 on threes, with five assists and two rebounds. Moore had 12 points (4-7 FG), three rebounds, and two assists.
SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said of the win, "Tonight I thought we won out on some grit. They zoned us and as much success as we had a few nights ago against Eastern Michigan's zone, we had the opposite almost in the first half and we were a little bit lost. We had some foul trouble and some young guys in that didn't help us...I think there's going to be different ways we win and they are a lot of fun to coach."
Jankovich, who replaced Larry Brown this summer, said of coaching his team, "I really enjoy this team for a lot of reasons. If I had a complaint it's that we have nine scholarship players...I really trust their commitment, their work ethic, their competitiveness, their camaraderie, their chemistry and when you have a team like that - also their work off the floor when we're not allowed to coach them. They are high level in all of those areas...On a given night I think we're going to find different areas to be really good in."
Pitt was led by Michael Young, who had 22 points on 6-12 from the field, 0-2 on threes, eight rebounds, and three assists. Jamel Artis had 20 points on 7-13 shooting, 2-5 on threes, four rebounds, and two assists.
Pitt Head Coach Kevin Stallings said of the game, "It was sort of a game of runs, but I thought overall their ability to offensive rebound and get second opportunities was a real key to the game. They have some really good athleticism and quickness in spots and defensively at times we had trouble keeping them in front of us. I thought on offense, which was probably my biggest disappointment tonight, I just thought we reverted to kind of dribbling and that's not really who we are. They pack their defense in and we just started dribbling and offensively we would have one guy dribbling and four guys watching. That's not who we are when we're good and we're best when we're moving the ball and guys are screening and working for each other and we had some good moments. We started doing a better job as the game went on of getting the ball to (Young) inside but I thought those were the ways we came up short."
Michigan 79, Marquette 61
Michigan and Marquette were evenly matched to start, as they were tied at 15 at the 13:21 mark of the first half.
Over the next seven minutes, Michigan went on a 23-5 run capped by a Mark Donnal layup to open up a 38-20 lead.
The Wolverines' dominance kept going from there, and an Ibi Watson jumper with 2:20 left in the first half made it 48-24.
Michigan, who got 13 points from Donnal and 11 points from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman in the first half, took a 50-26 lead into halftime.
Marquette made a mini-run in the second half, as they pulled to within 12, at 76-55, on Markus Howard free throws at the 5:31 mark.
An Abdur-Rahkman jumper with 1:59 left made it 77-57 Michigan with 1:59 remaining, and Michigan cruised from there to win 79-61.
Michigan was led by Zak Irvin, who had 16 points on 5-10 shooting, 3-4 on threes, six assists, and five rebounds. Abdur-Rahkman finished with 15 points (4-10 FG, 0-4 threes) and five rebounds. Donnal had 15 points off the bench on superb 6-for-8 shooting, including a three, and four rebounds.