ANN ARBOR - Tommy Amaker and Quin Snyder duked it out last night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament before a half-empty Crisler Arena.
Well, not really.
The one-time Duke teammates and former Blue Devils assistants left it up to their new teams to fight it out.
At the final bell, it was Amaker's Michigan Wolverines who delivered the final blow, scoring a 65-64 decision that knocked Snyder's Missouri Tigers out of the NIT.
Daniel Horton's off-balance eight-foot jump shot with 19.6 seconds remaining proved to be the winning shot for Michigan (19-11), which will face the winner of tonight's LSU-Oklahoma winner in the second round.
Missouri's Rickey Paulding missed a wide open 3-pointer with two seconds left that could have tied the score.
“We're very excited to finally get a win in the postseason,” Amaker said. “I thought Horton, down the stretch, was like the Daniel of old. He really made some big-time plays to help us win the game.”
Horton, whose younger brother Jason has already signed with Missouri for next season, finished with a team-high 20 points before leaving with leg cramps after hitting his game-winning shot.
He made 7 of 17 shots, including 4 of 8 3-pointers, in 36 minutes as the Wolverines improved to 8-0 in NIT home games before a sparse crowd of 5,507.
“At the end, I was able to penetrate and get off a good shot and it went in,” he said. “It was nice that ended up being the game-winning shot.”
Missouri's Arthur Johnson had a monster game. The Detroit native finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers, ranked as high as 10th in the preseason, finished 16-14.
“Arthur Johnson was as tough as they come,” Amaker said. “We just didn't have an answer for him in the low post.”
Michigan, making its first NIT appearance since 1999 and playing without sophomore guard Lester Abram for the second straight game due to a separated left shoulder, used a 19-7 run late in the second half to take a 59-55 lead.
A reverse by Horton at 4:11 snapped a 55-55 tie and a short time later he hit a driving layup after a wild scramble.
“Daniel had a great game,” said senior Bernard Robinson Jr., who finished with 14 points and five rebounds. “He made a lot of good plays for us tonight.”
Michigan, which led 32-26 at halftime, grabbed its biggest lead at 37-28 at the 18:35 mark of the second half on Horton's 3-pointer from the corner.
Missouri, making its seventh consecutive postseason appearance, then ripped off a 20-3 run to go up 48-40. Michigan managed just a free throw from Courtney Sims, who had 10 rebounds, and a basket by Brent Petway during that 81/2-minute stretch.
But then Michigan mounted its big comeback to improve to 4-1 all-time against Missouri.
“To win our 19th game tonight and to have the chance to win our 20th, I think it will be very beneficial to us in the future,” Amaker said. “I think our kids showed a lot of character, a lot of toughness, after Missouri's 20-3 run.”
Michigan shot 42.9 percent (24 of 56) and Missouri 42.6 (23 of 54). Both teams made six 3-pointers. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers to Michigan's 11.
Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6474.