Michigan didn't shoot well in the first half of its 78-53 win over VCU, making only three of 12 triples. That's where the bad news ends. The Wolverines handled the Ram's pressure with poise, turned many possessions into fast break points and pulled away for a 38-23 lead behind a balanced scoring effort.
Junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was impressive early against the VCU press, handling and bringing it up well when the Rams denied sophomore point guard Trey Burke the ball. The Wolverines actually turned it over more than they assisted in the half (five to six), but opportunities in the paint were prevalent, and U-M finished many. Had they made a few more easy ones and wide open looks, they'd have led by more than 20.
The Wolverines also defended. Many of VCU's looks were conetested, and Michigan did a good job keeping them off the offensive glass. Freshman big man Mitch McGary was a catalyst on both ends. He cleaned up on the glass, put the ball on the floor and finished and set bone crushing picks, the second leading to a Burke jumper that made it 36-21, and Burke to Glenn Robinson III alley-oop expanded the lead to 17.
Only a long, contested jump shot brought the Rams within 15 at the break.
Burke, showing no effects of a back injury suffered Thursday - and no fatigue - led Michigan with 11 points and three assists in 20 minutes. McGary notched six points and nine rebounds, Hardaway nine points on 2-for-3 triples and Glenn Robinson III 10 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Freshman shooter Nik Stauskas scored Michigan's first two points, but that was it - he went 0-for-3 from three-point range, all wide open looks.
Burke started the second half by dribbling directily into the VCU trap, turning it over. That led to a long, Troy Daniels two. Burke turned it over a second straight time, but McGary bailed him out by taking a charge, erasing a triple that would have cut it to 10, and once again on U-M's third possession.
That's when he and his teammates got serious - especially McGary. The freshman was dominant, at one point causing ESPN to tweet "Mitch McGary is a monster." He owned the paint and the Wolverines continued to dominate in the open court. A McGary stick-back and an and-one on an assist from Burke made it 45-31, and Michigan would only expand the lead.
Hardaway scored in transition on a triple from the corner, and Hardaway Jr. added an early exclamation point on a breakaway, reverse jam - with a double pump for emphasis. That made it 60-37, at which point the Wolverines were shooting 75 percent from beyond the arc and 66.7 percent from the field in the second half.
Stauskas then got involved, finishing two drives to the rim. Freshman Spike Albrecht complemented his only points, a long triple, with outstanding ball handling against the VCU press, turning it over only once to two assists.
McGary finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 10-for-11 from the floor and grabbing four offensive boards. Burke added 18, seven assists (and seven turnovers), Robinson 14 points and nine rebounds, Hardaway Jr. 14 points and Stauskas eight.
Michigan outrebounded VCU 40-24 and shot 51.7 percent from the floor. The Wolverines are Sweet 16 bound for the first time since 1994 and next travel to Arlington, Texas to face the winner of Kansas and North Carolina in South regional action.
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