Michigan escapes wild finish over Northwestern

Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) celebrates a 3-point basket in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Caris LeVert had 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists, Derrick Walton, Jr. chipped in 14 points, and Michigan escaped with a 56-54 win over Northwestern on Saturday night.

Freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman nailed a 3-pointer with less than a minute to go, giving Michigan (11-7, 4-2 Big Ten) a 56-52 lead.

Alex Olah’s layup pulled Northwestern (10-8, 1-4) within two with 42 seconds left and the Wildcats had a chance to tie or win after LeVert’s missed jumper with 17 seconds left. But Bryant McIntosh missed a floater in the final seconds that would have tied the game.

Michigan took the lead for good at 50-49 on LeVert’s layup with 5:04 left and stretched its lead to four on Zak Irvin’s 3-pointer just over a minute later.

After 2 1/2 scoreless minutes Scottie Lindsey’s 3-pointer cut Northwestern’s deficit to 53-52.

In his first career start, Abdur-Rahkman finished with nine points, nearly doubling his career total (10) before the game.

Olah had 22 points, one off his career high, and JerShon Cobb added 13 points for the Wildcats.

Both teams entered the game with struggling offenses. Michigan was No. 11 in the Big Ten in scoring offense (66.1 points per game) and Northwestern (65.2 ppg) was tied with Nebraska at No. 12.

But the Wolverines came out hot, nailing their first four 3-point attempts, building a 25-11 lead with an 18-0 run midway through the first half while the Wildcats missed seven consecutive shots.

Northwestern refocused on working the ball inside, which led to Olah scoring 11 straight and 16 total during a 20-7 run that spanned both halves and gave the Wildcats a 39-34 lead with 15 minutes to go.

The Wolverines eventually slowed him down, crashing the paint with multiple defenders down the stretch. Olah scored just four points in the final 17:40.

——

TIP-INS

Michigan: Spike Albrecht was held out of the game, while recovering from an upper respiratory infection. This was the first game Albrecht, who averages 27.7 minutes, 5.1 points and 3.3 assists per game, missed all season. … Ricky Doyle played 10 minutes in the first half, but did not see second-half action, due to an illness.

Northwestern: The Wildcats are riding a four-game losing streak in Big Ten play, after knocking off Rutgers 51-47 in the conference opener. . Northwestern has lost seven straight to Michigan since a 74-60 win on Jan. 18, 2011. … The two teams meet again in Evanston, Illinois on March 3.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Travels to Rutgers on Tuesday.

Northwestern: Hosts Ohio State on Thursday.

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