No. 2 Michigan pounds No. 7 Texas with barrage of three-pointers
Nik Stauskas and Michigan figured out the best way to overcome Texas’ advantage inside.
One sweet shooting performance.
Stauskas made four of Michigan’s 14 3-pointers, and the Wolverines beat the Longhorns 79-65 on Saturday to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
"Huge win for us," coach John Beilein said. "These guys believe and they did a great job."
Stauskas had 17 points and matched a career high with eight assists as Michigan (27-8) moved on to next week’s Midwest Regional semifinals in Indianapolis. The second-seeded Wolverines will face the winner of Sunday’s Mercer-Tennessee game.
Michigan lost to Louisville in the national championship game a year ago. But the Wolverines are rolling again, thanks to strong outside shooting and Jordan Morgan’s work inside.
"What I do like about this team is they’ve never lost two in a row. They’ve been resilient," Beilein said. "They get better in both victory and defeat."
Isiah Taylor scored 22 points for the seventh-seeded Longhorns on 8-for-22 shooting. Texas (24-11) outrebounded Michigan 41-30, including 21 on the offensive glass, but the Longhorns got off to a slow start and never recovered.
Michigan shot 14 for 28 from 3-point range and 17 for 21 at the free throw line in its ninth win in the last 10 games. Morgan had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III had 14 points apiece.
"It wasn’t the 14 3s that beat us. It wasn’t," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "It was not finishing a couple times defensively and the shots in close that we didn’t get to go down."
Texas trailed by 18 points early in the second half, but used its defense and rebounding to get back in the game. Martez Walker hit two free throws and Taylor had a jumper to trim Michigan’s lead to 58-52 with 8 minutes left.
That’s when Robinson stepped up for the Wolverines, driving inside for a score. After Connor Lammert turned it over for the Longhorns, Robinson hit a 3-pointer to make it 63-52 with 6:43 remaining.
"I wanted the ball. I think they were kind of keying in on Nik, and some of our other guys," Robinson said. "I hadn’t scored in a while."
LeVert added a big 3 in the final minutes, helping Michigan overcome its trouble inside in the second half. The Longhorns outrebounded the Wolverines 25-15 after halftime.
"We’ve got to look at this game, and everybody in this room has to remember this feeling. It’s horrible," Texas guard Demarcus Holland said.
Michigan was coming off a 57-40 victory over Wofford, while Texas advanced with a dramatic 87-85 victory over Arizona State in the late game Thursday night. The Longhorns and Sun Devils were tied in the final seconds when Cameron Ridley picked up a loose ball and banked it in as time expired.
It might have been the completely different games in the previous round or just Michigan’s advantage in tournament experience, but the Wolverines jumped all over the Longhorns at the start.
Stauskas led the way with his outside shooting and passing skills. He had three of Michigan’s eight 3s in the first half. He also threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Robinson for a dunk that made it 36-18 with 3:35 left, and found Morgan for another jam off a perfect pick-and-roll.
Stauskas set up Morgan for a dunk and passed to Derrick Walton Jr. for a 3 early in the second half.
"As soon as I put my eyes on the basket or just pretend like I’m going to raise up, a lot of guys would start running at me," Stauskas said. "That would leave some of the other guys wide open."
Texas trailed 43-30 at halftime, and it would have been a lot worse without Taylor’s slashing ability. The speedy freshman had the last four points of the half on a layup and two free throws, giving him a game-high 12 points at the break.
"We didn’t hit our shots in the first half and they were unconscious," Lammert said.
While Texas enjoyed a big advantage on the boards, Michigan had four turnovers and turned the Longhorns’ nine miscues into 15 points. The Wolverines also pestered Texas into 37 percent shooting.
"We knew that number, that rebounding number, we probably weren’t going to win today," Beilein said. "We had to win the other numbers to win the possession number. Proud of only four turnovers. I don’t think we had a turnover out of the backcourt in the entire game."