For about 13 minutes during the second half of the South region’s first Sweet 16 game, the Kansas Jayhawks hugely outplayed the Michigan Wolverines. Starting after a TV timeout at 15:48, Kansas outscored Michigan 24-16, building a ten-point lead that looked basically insurmountable. With 2:30 left Kansas had the ball; going by the numbers, a Michigan win at that point had about 200-1 odds, and it would require them to not only hit just about every one of their remaining shots, but also for Kansas to somehow stop scoring points, which up to that moment they had been doing with ease, mostly thanks to their size advantage on the inside.
Of course, that is exactly what happened: Michigan went on a 14-4 run, tying the game, and the Wolverines won in overtime. Here’s how it went down.
The comeback began when, with just under 2:30 remaining, Glen Robinson III — a talented, athletic freshman who’d disappeared in several games toward the end of Michigan’s season, often getting lost and out of place on the floor — gathered up a forced turnover.
Michigan now trailed by six, but Kansas hit two free throws, putting the deficit back at eight — until Burke hit this savage step-back three-pointer, an incredibly difficult shot. Notice McGary screening Burke’s man. McGary is another high-potential player who had an up-and-down year before exploding in the tournament.
On the ensuing possession, Kansas hit two free throws, and Burke followed it up with another layup and a quick foul. Fortunately for Michigan, Elijah Johnson missed a free throw, giving the Wolverines the ball with 13 seconds left, down by three. They immediately gave the ball to Burke, who took it down the court and hit this, easily the best shot of the 2013 NCAA Tournament so far.
But what you’ll notice looking back at the play is that, once again, Mitch McGary picks Burke’s man, Travis Releford, knocking him to the ground. Once clear of Releford, Burke has enough room to take the shot, despite the efforts of Kansas’ Kevin Young. Although Burke was the obvious hero of the comeback, the efforts of freshmen McGary and Robinson — six points, two perfect screens, a steal, and a crucial possession kept alive between — were essential to Michigan’s win. Another up-and-down freshman would step up against Florida — Nik Stauskas, who cashed all six of his three-pointers — and now the Wolverines are in the national semifinals.
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