Syracuse’s zone took away the scoring of Player of the Year Trey Burke (right of photo), but Michigan’s Mitch McGary (left in photo) grabbed the rebound on Syracuse’s first shot, then rejected the next two Syracuse shots to set the tone, going have four assists, seven rebounds and seven points in the first half to give Michigan an 11-point lead. When Syracuse rode CJ Fair all the way back to the lead, McGary had to sit and his replacement Jordan Morgan draw a charge on Brandon Triche to foul him out of the game and preserve a 61-56 win to send the Wolverines into Monday’s title game against Louisville.
CJ Fair almost brought Syracuse all the way back. He scored his 15th point after stealing the ball in the backcourt from McGary and drawing a third foul on him with 12:35 to play. McGary went to the bench, and Fair hit both free throw to make it 45-39 during a four minute scoreless stretch for Michigan that set up a defensive battle down the stretch.
McGary could only sit on the bench and watch as Fair hit another jumper to cut the lead to 45-41, and even after McGary came back Fair hit another jumper for his 20th point to make it 48-45 with 7:54 to play.
Burke drove into the lane on the next trip and even though his shot rimmed off, he drew so much attention that Glenn Robinson was able to get a tough tip to extend the Michigan lead to 51-45, and after Fair missed two shots McGary hit a turnaround from foul line to make it 53-45.
The freshman inexperience showed a little down the stretch, as McGary turned down a short shot the next trip, and Syracuse eventually stole the ball, leading to a Fair dunk to cut it to 53-47.
One of the greatest three-point shooters in the country, James Southerland, then continued a frustrating night by missing his seventh consecutive three-pointer which could have cut it to a one possession game.
However, Syracuse forced their third consecutive turnover, who this time got the ball back to Southerland for an apparent eighth three-point attempt, but instead he dribbled past Tim Hardaway and slammed home a tomahawk jam to cut it to 53-49 with 1:52 to play.
Syracuse’s last chance may have ended when Michael Carter-Williams almost drew an offensive foul on Trey Burke, but instead committed his fourth foul and then fouled out moments later to cost the Orangemen their floor leader, and Michigan held on for the 61-56 win.