CHICAGO — Michigan has a big-time point guard in Trey Burke and an athletic lineup that includes Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III — a recipe for a long run in the NCAA tournament.
Yet the sixth-ranked Wolverines have struggled down the stretch and did so again Friday as Wisconsin shot 61 percent in the second half of a 68-59 victory that ousted Michigan in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. At least the Wolverines have plenty of time to think about where they might end up.
“We really have to grow defensively,” coach John Belein said. “In the second half they just scored at will. That would be the big thing. We’ll fix it the best we can. We’ve been trying it all year long. There’s a process we all have to go through to get better at it and hopefully we can shore up enough to keep playing for a long time.”
Burke had 19 points and seven assists for Michigan (26-7), but the Big Ten player of the year was 8 for 22 from the field. Hardaway shook off a leg injury in the first half and finished with 14 points and nine boards.
The Wolverines have lost two of three and split their last 12 games overall, not a good way to roll into Selection Sunday.
“Just continuing to grow and continuing to grow as a team on defense,” Burke said when asked what the team needs to do before the NCAA tourney. “I think today we didn’t have the best defensive game. I think we got a lot of really good looks. It wasn’t really our offense. It was really just playing team defense and sticking together when we needed each other.”
Ben Brust scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half for Wisconsin (22-10), which will play top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals on Saturday. Traevon Jackson had 16 points, and Ryan Evans added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.
“Just a great team effort,” coach Bo Ryan said. “Guys picked each other up. They didn’t get frustrated when the shots weren’t going down in the first half. We took care of that in the second half, and continued to hustle on defense.”
The Wolverines advanced with an 83-66 victory over Penn State on Thursday, setting up a sequel to one of the best games of the season. Wisconsin rallied for a 65-62 victory over Michigan on Feb. 9 when Brust hit a tying 3-pointer from just inside midcourt at the end of regulation, then hit another big 3 with 39 seconds left in overtime.
This one was lacking that sort of drama, but still had a compelling finish.
Wisconsin finally found its shooting stroke in the second half, putting together a 10-0 run to take a 29-24 lead with 15:09 to go. Brust hit a 3-pointer, Jared Berggren converted two layups and Frank Kaminsky capped the run with another 3. Michigan tried to rally, but Wisconsin had an answer each time. And the Badgers had a couple of different players step up at crucial points.
Mike Bruesewitz and Brust each hit a big 3-pointer. Evans wriggled free for a layup and a jumper to extend the lead to 49-42 with 7:56 left. Brust tacked on another 3 from the corner to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 11, forcing a Michigan timeout with 6:01 remaining.
“We wanted to go inside out, and that’s how we started the half,” Evans said. “I started with a bucket, and they had to collapse. Then our 3-pointers, Mike and Ben — it was good to see Mike get going today.”
The Wolverines then put together a 9-0 run to get within 56-54, but Kaminsky made a pull-up jumper as the final seconds of the shot clock ticked off. Burke then missed inside, Jackson went 1 for 2 at the line to make it a five-point game, and the Badgers closed it out from there.
“We had some chances to take the game back over and get back in front and we just couldn’t do it,” Beilein said. “A lot of that has to do with how we develop as a team and a lot has to do with how talented a team Wisconsin really is.”
Michigan got a scare midway through the first half when Hardaway twisted his left ankle when he got his foot caught under Bruesewitz after he attempted a floater in the lane. He had to be helped to the locker room, but he returned a couple minutes later, earning a round of applause from the sellout crowd.
“It was hurting for a little bit when I came back out, but it loosened up while I was playing on it and it got better while the game was going on,” he said.
The contrasting styles of the high-scoring Wolverines and defensive-minded Badgers were on full display during an ugly first half that featured almost as many turnovers (14) as field goals (15).
Burke helped send a charge through the crowd with a long alley-oop to a streaking Hardaway, who soared in for the dunk with 11:49 to go. Hardaway saluted the crowd as he bounded down the court after the big jam.
But Berggren immediately dunked on the other end for Wisconsin, and the Badgers used their stifling defense to stick around despite an awful shooting display. Jackson hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to trim Michigan’s lead to 20-17 at the break.
The halftime statistics were alarming for both sides. The Badgers were 5 for 29 from the field, but the Wolverines were only slightly better at 10 for 29. Michigan missed all five of its foul shots and committed eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
“It’s the old cliche, defense wins championships,” Evans said. “We understand that here. Anything we can do to slow those guys down and get our shots will move us forward.”
Miami 69, BC 58
GREENSBORO, N.C. — It doesn’t matter whether Shane Larkin is passing the ball or taking it from the other team. The Miami point guard always wants to keep his teammates involved.
Larkin scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime to help the ninth-ranked Hurricanes pull away and beat Boston College 69-58 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Kenny Kadji added 15 points and Trey McKinney Jones finished with 12 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (25-6), who got a serious scare from eighth-seeded BC (16-17) before advancing to a semifinal matchup Saturday with fifth-seeded North Carolina State, which beat Virginia in another quarterfinal.
Miami let an early 13-point lead disappear, then shot nearly 70 percent in the second half while making all the plays down the stretch to avoid becoming the ACC’s first No. 1 seed to lose its tournament opener since 1997.
And the Hurricanes — who have won at least one ACC tournament game in eight of their 10 seasons in the league — have Larkin to thank for their latest escape.
“By adding Shane to that group (of seniors), he adds an element that allows all of them to play better,” coach Jim Larannaga said. “He’s so good at what he does. A lot of times you’ll see (Larkin) in the first half try to get the ball to (his teammates), and then the second half starts, he starts to pick his spots to attack and score or find the open man. We absolutely needed that.”
Patrick Heckmann finished with 15 points for the Eagles, and his 3-pointer with 3½ minutes left tied it at 55.
Durand Scott put Miami in front to stay with two free throws with 3:01 left, and Larkin took over a few moments later. He came up with a key steal from Olivier Hanlan, then buried a momentum-shifting 3 off an inbounds pass to make it 60-55 with 1:49 left.
“It wasn’t just me who got the steal,” Larkin said, adding that Kadji was in on the trap and Rion Brown made a heady play to save the ball. “It was all of us.”
After Brown swished a pretty hanging jumper with 57.6 seconds left, and Kadji added a free throw to make it 63-55, BC didn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way. McKinney Jones punctuated the victory with a dunk with 17.2 seconds left.
“We just had mental breakdowns” during the final 3 minutes, Hanlan said. “The little things hurt us.”
Larkin also keyed the defensive effort on Hanlan, who a day earlier set an ACC tournament record for freshmen with 41 points in the first-round win over Georgia Tech.
Hanlan finished this one with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, missing 5 of his final 6 attempts after making 16 consecutive shots over two days. His streak ended when his 3-pointer over Larkin hit off the rim with just under 14 minutes left, and Larkin also forced him into four turnovers.
“It’s very difficult to come back from that type of performance and not expect one of the best defensive teams in the country to put you on lockdown,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “I thought he handled it well, and I thought we played off it well.”
Ryan Anderson also had 14 points for the Eagles, who had their ACC-best four-game winning streak snapped and were denied their first semifinal appearance since 2007.
They lost twice to Miami during the regular season in vastly differing ways: The Hurricanes romped by 32 points in Coral Gables a few weeks after holding on for a one-point win at BC.
And for a while, this one looked like a repeat of that blowout — at least until BC dug itself out of a double-digit hole for the second straight day.
After rallying from 15 points down to beat the Yellow Jackets in the first round, the Eagles spotted Miami a 21-8 lead before closing the half on a 19-4 run and took their first lead when Anderson’s layup with 4 seconds left made it 27-25. That coincided with a brutally cold spell for Miami, which missed 14 of its last 16 shots of the half against a BC team that started pressing the Hurricanes and defending them with a zone.
“We got a little passive,” Larranaga said. “We didn’t attack the way we wanted to.”
BC stretched its lead to 30-25 on Heckmann’s 3-pointer 20 seconds into the half. Miami eventually countered with an 11-2 run and took a 48-44 lead on Larkin’s deep 3, and things remained tight until Larkin and the Hurricanes finally pulled away.MORE IN Sports WireLAS VEGAS — Arizona fought its way back from some early defensive breakdowns and kept the game... Full Story
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