Michigan guard Trey Burke (3) celebrates a basket against Virginia Commonwealth in the second half of their third-round NCAA game in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Saturday.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Michigan made Havoc look helpless.
Mitch McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and the fourth-seeded Wolverines breezed through Virginia Commonwealth’s vaunted pressure with a clinical performance Saturday, beating the fifth-seeded Rams 78-53 to advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the first time since 1994.
VCU (27-9) was relentless in a 46-point rout of Akron on Thursday night, but the Rams met their match against Michigan’s cool-headed backcourt. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. rarely looked rattled against VCU, and although Michigan (28-7) committed 12 turnovers, the Rams couldn’t turn many of them into quick scoring opportunities.
McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, set season highs in scoring and rebounding. VCU had no answer for him around the basket, and when the Rams couldn’t create easy baskets with their pressure defense — they call it “Havoc” — they were finished.
The 71-point swing by VCU — from a 46-point win to a 25-point loss — was the largest in NCAA tournament history, according to STATS. In 1968, Houston beat Texas Christian 103-68, then lost to UCLA 101-69 for a 67-point swing.
McGary made his first seven shots from the field. Burke scored 18 points, and Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III added 14 each.
Juvonte Reddic scored 16 points for VCU.
Michigan led 38-23 at halftime. Burke turned the ball over five times in the first 5:51 of the second half, but even then the Rams couldn’t rally.
A dunk and a layup by McGary had VCU calling timeout with the score 49-33 — and then Michigan found a bit of a groove from beyond the arc.
Spike Albrecht made a 3-pointer and found Robinson with a slick pass for a dunk in transition. A 3-pointer by Burke made it 57-35.
Hardaway made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 23 and added an acrobatic reverse dunk to make it 64-38.
The Rams entered the day forcing an average of 19.9 turnovers per game, the most in the nation. Michigan was only committing 9.2 per game, the fewest in the nation.
In a matchup of strength against strength, the Wolverines won easily. They started by letting Hardaway bring the ball up while VCU denied Burke. Occasionally, Burke would have enough space to dribble up the court himself, and Michigan also picked the press apart on occasion with smart passing.
The Rams didn’t help themselves by shooting 30 percent from the field in the first half. It’s harder for VCU to set up its press when the Rams aren’t scoring.
Michigan was only 3 of 12 from 3-point range before halftime, but the Wolverines still opened a sizeable margin. A 3-pointer by Hardaway put Michigan ahead 30-19, and Burke made it a 15-point game when he hit from the perimeter after McGary flattened Briante Weber with a pick.
Burke drove toward the basket and lobbed to Robinson for an alley-oop dunk that made it 38-21.
Michigan State 70,
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Michigan State is into the round of 16 for the NCAA tournament as usual.
Gary Harris scored 16 of his career-high 23 points in the first half and the third-seeded Spartans cruised past sixth-seeded Memphis 70-48 on Saturday, putting the Tom Izzo-led program in the regional semifinals for the fifth time in six years and the 11th time in his career.
Michigan State (27-8) will play the winner of the Duke-Creighton game on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Tigers (31-5) advanced in the NCAA tournament for the first time in Josh Pastner’s four seasons. The Conference USA champions are headed home because they struggled to stop Harris on the outside or his teammates inside all afternoon.
The Spartans’ top post players - Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix - combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds.
Memphis’ Geron Johnson scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half, and Joe Jackson finished with 12 points.
Michigan State led by as much as 13 in the first half, creating that cushion when Harris made his fifth shot and fourth 3-pointer with 7:59 left in the first half.
Memphis responded with a 12-2 run to pull within three, and the Spartans led 32-29 at halftime.
But the Tigers fell off the pace in the second half because they were overmatched physically by a Big Ten power after going undefeated during their regular season in Conference USA.
Harris got into foul trouble early in the second half, getting called for his third and fourth fouls, sending him to the bench with 13:42 left.
Keith Appling picked up the slack by making his first shot to put Michigan State up by nine points, but the team’s leading scorer left for good with 8:35 left when his right shoulder took the brunt of Johnson’s drive into the lane.
Before Appling was hurt, he had a towel thrown at him during a heated exchange by Nix, his teammate since high school. Izzo, who has lamented the team’s lack of leadership all season, looked dumbfounded at Nix, upset that the senior center would lose his cool at a time like that.
Backup point guard Travis Trice had four fouls, limiting his ability to fill in for Appling, and that put the ball in the hands of freshman Denzel Valentine.
But it didn’t really matter who was on the court for the Spartans because they were able to force Memphis into a half-court game and it struggled to have success against Michigan State’s in-your-face defense.
Michigan State limited the Tigers to sub-30-percent shooting and outrebounded them by 20, a part of the game Pastner was worried about for good reason.
Izzo has built his program on defense and rebounding, and it has served the 2000 national championship coach very well. Michigan State is two wins away from its seventh Final Four under Izzo.
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