INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michigan coach Juwan Howard was ejected midway through the second half after getting a shouting match with the Maryland bench, and the No. 4 Wolverines won 79-66 Friday to reach the Big Ten semifinals.
Mike Smith scored 18 points and set a Big Ten Tournament record with 15 assists for top-seeded Michigan (20-3). The Wolverines rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit and will next play either No. 9 Ohio State or No. 21 Purdue in Saturday’s first semifinal game.
Michigan swung the game by ending the first half on a 16-2 run and starting the second half on an 11-4 spurt.
But during a timeout with 10:44 to go, Howard walked toward midcourt and shouted toward the Maryland bench. The refs called two technical fouls on Howard and another on Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon, who was not ejected.
Maryland took advantage by scoring five straight points to cut a 10-point deficit in half.
But the Wolverines answered with an 8-0 run to make it 65-52 with 7:22 left and Maryland never seriously challenged again.
Franz Wagner and Eli Brooks each scored 16 points for the league’s regular-season champs.
Eric Ayala scored 19 points and Darryl Morsell added 16 to lead the eighth-seeded Terrapins (16-13).
Maryland: A strong finish — and Thursday’s victory over Michigan State — should be enough to get an NCAA Tournament bid. But shooting 74% from the field through the first 15 minutes, the Terrapins’ shooting touch went away and the predictable result was a third straight loss in this season’s series.
Michigan: After some early jitters, the Wolverines settled down and played their game. Michigan is 7-2 since resuming basketball activities following a COVID-19 shutdown, with six of those wins by at least seven points. The biggest impediment to a tourney title this weekend might be fatigue.
Maryland: Will find out its next opponent on Selection Sunday.