Michigan breezes past VCU press in 78-53 win
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Michigan made Havoc look helpless.
Mitch McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and the fourth-seeded Wolverines breezed through Virginia Commonwealth’s vaunted pressure with a clinical performance Saturday, beating the fifth-seeded Rams 78-53 to advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the first time since 1994.
VCU (27-9) was relentless in a 46-point rout of Akron on Thursday night, but the Rams met their match against Michigan’s cool-headed backcourt. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. rarely looked rattled against VCU, and although Michigan (28-7) committed 12 turnovers, the Rams couldn’t turn many of them into quick scoring opportunities.
McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, set season highs in scoring and rebounding. VCU had no answer for him around the basket, and when the Rams couldn’t create easy baskets with their pressure defense — they call it “Havoc” — they were finished.
The 71-point swing by VCU — from a 46-point win to a 25-point loss — was the largest in NCAA tournament history, according to STATS. In 1968, Houston beat Texas Christian 103-68, then lost to UCLA 101-69 for a 67-point swing.
McGary made his first seven shots from the field. Burke scored 18 points, and Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III added 14 each.
Juvonte Reddic scored 16 points for VCU.
Michigan led 38-23 at halftime. Burke turned the ball over five times in the first 5:51 of the second half, but even then the Rams couldn’t rally.
A dunk and a layup by McGary had VCU calling timeout with the score 49-33 — and then Michigan found a bit of a groove from beyond the arc.
Spike Albrecht made a 3-pointer and found Robinson with a slick pass for a dunk in transition. A 3-pointer by Burke made it 57-35.
Hardaway made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 23 and added an acrobatic reverse dunk to make it 64-38.
The Rams entered the day forcing an average of 19.9 turnovers per game, the most in the nation. Michigan was only committing 9.2 per game, the fewest in the nation.
In a matchup of strength against strength, the Wolverines won easily. They started by letting Hardaway bring the ball up while VCU denied Burke. Occasionally, Burke would have enough space to dribble up the court himself, and Michigan also picked the press apart on occasion with smart passing.
The Rams didn’t help themselves by shooting 30 percent from the field in the first half. It’s harder for VCU to set up its press when the Rams aren’t scoring.
Michigan was only 3 of 12 from 3-point range before halftime, but the Wolverines still opened a sizeable margin. A 3-pointer by Hardaway put Michigan ahead 30-19, and Burke made it a 15-point game when he hit from the perimeter after McGary flattened Briante Weber with a pick.
Burke drove toward the basket and lobbed to Robinson for an alley-oop dunk that made it 38-21.