LOS ANGELES — Moritz Wagner insists his display of kindness last Saturday night was a product of fatigue as much as sportsmanship.
The Michigan standout said he cut short his celebration after Jordan Poole’s last-second game-winning 3-pointer because he was too exhausted to run after his teammate any longer. Only after he stopped did he notice heartbroken Houston guard Corey Davis standing nearby with a dazed expression on his face.
“I was tired of chasing Jordan Poole around and [Davis] was standing right there,” Wagner said. “You’ve got to understand they’re seniors and we were 3.6 seconds away from being in their shoes. I didn’t really say too much. It was just something that happened.”
I really enjoyed watching Houston’s Corey Davis compete. And then he suffered this.
But then a classy move from Mo Wagner.
What a way to finish in Wichita. pic.twitter.com/CHZqeq7lWp
— Jeffrey Parson (@JeffreyParson) March 18, 2018
Video of Wagner putting his arm around Davis and consoling him spread almost as quickly on social media last weekend as clips of Poole’s game-winning 3-pointer did. It was an uncommonly decent gesture at a juncture when nobody would have blamed Wagner if he didn’t think twice about the losing team and joined the rest of his teammates in their dog pile atop Poole.
“I think that’s reflective of who Mo is,” Michigan assistant coach Saddi Washington said. “He has the personality to care about his teammates and care about his opponent too.
“If you’ve played this game long enough, you’ve been on both sides of those situations. As thrilling as it was for us, you understand the heartbreak for the other side. Both teams put their heart and soul into that game and fortunately we were able to come out on top.”
Poole’s season-saving buzzer beater earned Michigan a trip to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles, where the third-seeded Wolverines will meet seventh-seeded Texas A&M on Thursday night. Whether Wagner can hold his own defensively and on the glass against Texas A&M’s massive frontcourt will be key for Michigan, as will his ability to use his 3-point shooting prowess to force the bigger, slower Aggies to defend him on the perimeter.
Wagner admitted he was surprised by all the attention he has received for his sportmanship against Houston. He said he has a lot of respect for the Cougars after how close they came to ousting the Wolverines.
“It really took everything we had to win that game,” Wagner said. “They guarded our stuff so well and they played their hearts out. To see them like that, they were devastated. In sports, there’s a fine line. You’ve got to appreciate both sides.”
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