Trey Burke scored seven points in the first 2:40 to help Michigan jump to the lead, but with 11:09 to go in the half it suddenly looked like Michigan’s 20-15 lead might vanish. Luke Hancock pumped Burke into the air, drawing a second foul on him to send him to the bench for the rest of the half, and force back-up Spike Albrecht to handle the Cardinals’ pressure the rest of the half. No problem, for eight minutes.
Hancock hit two of three free throws to make it 20-17, and then the Cardinals forced turnovers on consecutive trips. But they failed to convert, and Albrecht hit a trey as part of a 5 for 5 start shooting. By halftime he had 17 points–over 15 more than his game average, and by the time Michigan led 33-21 it was Louisville’s best player, Russ Smith, who was on the bench with two fouls.
However, in the final three minutes it was Hancock returning the favor. Two days after becoming the first player to score 20 points off the bench, Hancock hit two free throws and then four consecutive 3-pointers. His streak was finally broken when Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell took a hook pass from Peyton Siva and slammed it home to make it 37-36 Louisville.
Glenn Robinson’s two free throws with two seconds left meant that not counting bench players Hancock and Albrecht, the score was Michigan 21, Louisville 21. However, with Albrecht outscoring Hancock 17-16, the Wolverines led 38-37 going into the locker room.
Louisville has typically gained steam throughout games to blow away teams in the second half, but Michigan goes into the second half with the best player in the game, Burke, rested for a great second half of basketball in what looks like a classic national championship game through one half.