Michigan withstood a late rally by Syracuse to defeat the Orange in the Final Four on Saturday at the Georgia Dome, 61-56.
Although Michigan's Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III led the Wolverines with just six points apiece at the half, Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and James Southerland combined to shoot 3-of-14 from the floor in the first 20 minutes of action. Michigan built a double-digit lead at the half despite star point guard Trey Burke scoring just three points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Syracuse had to call a timeout after McGary's dunk off a feed from Burke. The Wolverines led with 15:08 remaining, 43-32.
After Tim Hardaway Jr. responded with a three-pointer, the Orange went on a 4-0 run before Michigan took a timeout with 7:41 remaining, clinging on to a 48-45 lead.
It was only inevitable that the Orange would bounce back once again, going on a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to four points with 1:58 remaining.
Interestingly enough, Michigan was able to beat Syracuse at its own game, notching 13 offensive rebounds on Saturday night (including five by McGary).
McGary proved to be a difference-maker for the Wolverines, posting 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
Fair finished with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting for the Orange. Carter-Williams had a rough outing, scoring two points and managing just two assists to five turnovers.
Michigan emerged victorious despite Burke scoring just seven points in the game.
East Lansing High School varsity boy's basketball coach Steve Finamore noted the change in strategy for the Wolverines that began paying dividends in the first half:
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted at the half:
Michigan running a 1-4. Hitting the high post, opposite post dives to block, opposite wing slides to corner— Steve Finamore (@CoachFinamore) April 7, 2013
Michigan got hot later in the first half, which helped the Wolverines build a lead, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
Michigan found a way to beat the zone. It was 6-for-9 against Syracuse's zone when it got a touch in the paint, 5-for-14 when it didn't.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 7, 2013
Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress offered up his analysis:
Michigan started out 1-for-9 from 3-point range, but closed by making 5 of its last 8— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 7, 2013
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com highlighted Michigan's advantage on the bench at the half:
Michigan is running a 4 across or Double High, which ever you wanna call it, is gonna run Syracuse outta that zone. #readjust— Plaxico Burress (@plaxicoburress) April 7, 2013
Myron Medcalf of ESPN tweeted in the second half:
#Michigan bench coming up big w/ 16 pts in 1st half tonight. Previous 4 NCAA games combined Wolverine bench had 26.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) April 7, 2013
CBS' Tim Brando didn't pull any punches about a questionable charge call on Brandon Triche toward the end of the game:
Mitch McGary .... and I can't confirm this ... But I've lived in Minnesota long enough to know that the Minnesota Timberwolves will pick you— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) April 7, 2013
ESPN's J.A. Adande wasn't thrilled with this game due to numerous late-game follies:
Last sequence for Syracuse was certainly an issue, but the charge on Triche was another horrible call at the end of a critical game.Terrible— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) April 7, 2013
Missed free throws, lane violation, charging. I con't care if there's an 80-foot game-winner at the buzzer. this can't be called a classic.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 7, 2013