Michigan can score in bunches. Texas found that out the hard way.
The second-seeded Wolverines knocked down 14 three-pointers and shot 44 percent for the game to knock off No. 7 seed Texas 79-65 and advance to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season.
Big Ten player of the year Nik Stauskas led the Wolverines with 17 points – hitting four three-pointers – and also matched a season-high with eight assists. Senior forward Jordan Morgan notched his second double-double of the tournament with 15 points and 10 boards while sophomores Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III scored 14 points apiece.
After a relatively slow start on both sides, the Wolverines caught fire midway through the first half. Over a six minute span, Michigan hit eight of nine shots, including four threes, to increase its lead from 11-6 at the 13:19 mark to 30-12 at the 7:22 mark.
Michigan’s lead was double digits for much of the second half, but behind strong efforts from Isaiah Taylor (22 points, five assists) and Martez Walker (14 points, seven rebounds), Texas was able to slowly chip away at the lead.
Texas got it as close as six points with a little more than eight minutes to play, but Robinson III responded with a basket and a three to quickly build the lead back to 11.
From there on out, Michigan was in cruise control.
After two upsets in the bottom half of the Midwest region, Michigan will face either Tennessee or Mercer – both double-digit seeds – in the Sweet 16. The Wolverines, last year’s national runner-up, will be favorites no matter who they play in the next round, and even looking beyond that game, a possible national championship rematch against Louisville could be on the horizon in the Elite Eight. Of course the Cardinals would have to knock off the winner of Sunday’s Wichita State-Kentucky game, but that potential rematch would definitely be intriguing.
After winning the Big Ten regular season title and shooting the lights out so far in the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines have to be looked at as serious title contenders. John Beilein’s team has hit 21-of-45 three pointers so far in the tournament. Shooting like that can take a team a long way.
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