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The Dagger

Trey Burke’s 3-pointer caps unlikely comeback, propels Michigan to Elite Eight

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

Whether it's Arizona in 1997, Rhode Island in 1998 or Northern Iowa in 2010, Kansas has a long history of stunning losses as a No. 1 seed.

None of those were any more painful, however, than the near-certain win the Jayhawks let slip through their fingers Friday night.

Comfortably ahead of fourth-seeded Michigan by 10 points with the ball and only two and a half minutes remaining in regulation, Kansas needed only to run clock, avoid turnovers and sink its free throws to advance to the Elite Eight. Instead the Jayhawks frittered away that lead in a hail of turnovers and blown defensive assignments, finally giving Michigan a chance to tie on its final possession when Elijah Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-one to keep the Wolverines' deficit at three.

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To the surprise of no one, Michigan put the ball in the hands of Trey Burke, the favorite to win national player of the year. Burke curled around a Mitch McGary screen and found just enough daylight to bury the game-tying 25 footer with five seconds left, enabling Michigan to force overtime and eke out an improbable 87-85 win.

Despite a scoreless first half, Burke finished with 23 points and 10 assists and his game-tying 3-pointer wasn't his only big buckets of the night. He had eight points during Michigan's late comeback alone and scored the first five in overtime for the Wolverines on a 3-pointer and a jump shot.

Burke's heroics send the Wolverines to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1994, an outcome few anticipated given the way they finished the regular season. They were a trendy upset pick in both their opening-weekend games after dropping five of 10 to close the regular season including a Big Ten quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin.

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For a Kansas team that seemed capable of a return to the Final Four after losing in the national championship game a year ago, the disappointment of Friday's loss was tough to stomach.

The Jayhawks only led by six at halftime despite shooting over 60 percent from the field and stifling Burke with their defense. An early second-half burst from Ben McLemore helped Kansas expand the lead to as many as 14 in the second half, but the Jayhawks were unable to make it hold up.

A Glenn Robinson III steal and dunk via a turnover by Johnson began the Michigan comeback. A 10-second violation caused by Johnson's nonchalance bringing the ball up the court helped the Wolverines further tighten the gap. And though Johnson and Releford sank four straight pressure free throws in the final 90 seconds, Johnson's miss with 13 seconds to go proved costly.

Kansas still had one chance to rescue itself in the final seconds of overtime but again things ended in frustration.

Johnson took a circular route to the rim and opted to kick out to Naadir Tharpe instead of trying for a game-tying layup. The result was an off-target, off-balance 3-pointer that led to a wild celebration on one half of the court and utter dejection on the other.


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