Michigan Basketball defeated Syracuse 61-56 on Saturday night. The Wolverines will play Louisville on Monday for the National Championship.
How the game was won
All week long we heard about Syracuse and their vaunted zone defense. Michigan had the answer in the form of tournament sensation Mitch McGary. The freshman big man was like Godzilla in the middle of the zone defense, the Orange defenders were helpless against him as he dished, drove, dunked and blocked his way to a fifth consecutive masterpiece performance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
To be fair, Syracuse’s zone had been tremendous through four games of the tournament as they held the opposition to 29% from the field and a paltry 15% from beyond the arc. The Orange also tightened up their defense in the second half and slowly chipped away at Michigan’s lead.
They were able to trim U-M’s lead down to 45-41 with 11:00 minutes to play. During the Orange run, Michigan went 4:30 without scoring before Tim Hardaway Jr ended the drought with a much needed triple. Michigan got key buckets from McGary and Glenn Robinson III to stretch the lead back out to 53-45 with under 4 minutes to play in the game.
Late in the game, Hardaway Jr made two clutch free throws and on the ensuing possession he fouled out Michael Carter-Williams by drawing an offensive foul.
Michigan missed 4 free throws in the final minute to make it a really stressful finish. The Wolverines had a 59-56 lead with 11 seconds left. Syracuse turned to Trevor Cooney to drive, he missed the shot, Hardaway grabbed the rebound and before he fell out of bounds he managed to flip the ball to LeVert, who found a streaking Jordan Morgan. Morgan, who had fouled out Brandon Triche just moments earlier, then put an exclamation point on Michigan’s victory with a thunderous dunk.
1. Mitch McGary notched his third double-double of the tournament and keyed Michigan’s dismantling of the Syracuse zone in the first half. He also dished out a career-high 6 assists and blocked two shots. McGary finished with 10 points and 12 boards. “He was really good,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the game.
2. Tim Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 13 points. He also grabbed 6 rebounds and handed out 5 assists. Hardaway Jr game up huge in the game’s final moments. He drained two clutch free throws with 1:19 left to play. He fouled out Michael Carter-Williams. He preserved a key possession with 28 seconds left when he saved a Trey Burke pass from going out of bounds. Burke would connect on 1-2 free throws to cap the possession. Then on Syracuse’s final shot, it was Hardaway who pulled down the rebound.
3. Glenn Robinson III finished with 10 points and 6 boards on 5-7 shooting. He came up with big plays when Michigan needed them.
News and notes
Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht both came off the bench and knocked down two first half triples.
Michigan had 21 bench points.
The Wolverines had 17 assists on 21 made field goals.
Michigan has won six consecutive national semi-final games.
This will be Michigan’s sixth appearance in the national championship game (1965, ’76, ’89, ’92, ’93 and 2013).
Michigan will play Louisville on Monday night for the National Championship. Tip off is scheduled for 9:20pm
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