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Michigan holds off Syracuse

Michigan players, including Tim Hardaway, right, and Nik Stauskas (11) celebrate reaching Monday’s title game.

Associated Press

Michigan players, including Tim Hardaway, right, and Nik Stauskas (11) celebrate reaching Monday’s title game.

ATLANTA — Don't call these guys the Fab Five. Michigan's latest group of young stars is determined to leave its own legacy.

Attacking Syracuse's zone in the first half with 3-pointers and crisp passing, the Wolverines built a big enough lead to reach the NCAA Tournament final with a 61-56 victory Saturday.

Up by 11 at halftime, the Wolverines (31-7) saw the lead sliced to as few as one. And down 58-56, the Orange (30-10) had a chance to force overtime. But Brandon Triche was called for charging into Jordan Morgan with 19.2 seconds left.

"Jordan is our best charge-taker," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "He stood in there and took a good one."

Triche blamed himself.

"I was just trying to make a play for the team," he said. "I probably should have made a better decision; probably should have pulled up for the jump shot. I did see him, but I figured I was already in the air jumping."

After Jon Horford made one of two free throws, Syracuse called timeout and set up a play. But the Orange didn't attempt a tying 3-pointer by its best shooter, James Southerland. Instead, Trevor Cooney drove the lane.

But the ball was swatted away, Michigan saved it from going out of bounds, and Morgan wound up taking a long pass the other way. He threw down a thunderous slam with about a second remaining to cap the triumph.

"We were trying to get James. They switched it, and Trevor had no choice," Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. "He did the best he could in that situation.

Michigan will try to become only the second No. 4 seed to win a title. Arizona did it in 1997, capped by an 84-79 overtime victory over a Kentucky team coached by Rick Pitino. On Monday, the Wolverines face a Louisville team coached by Pitino.

Trey Burke, the national player of the year, scored only seven on 1-of-8 shooting for Michigan. Sharpshooter Tim Hardaway missed 12 of 16 attempts from the floor. Nik Stauskas hit nearly 45 percent of his 3-pointers but missed all five on Saturday.

But Michigan got contributions. Mitch McGary had 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. And coming off the bench, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht scored eight and six, respectively. All of Albrecht's points came in the second half.

"You never know who the outlier is," Beilein said. "You never know who's going to get it done."

Of course, there's nothing unusual about Michigan getting big performances from first-year players. This team starts three freshmen — McGary, Stauskas and Glenn Robinson, which, of course, rekindled memories of the great Fab Five teams of the early 1990s.

These kids want nothing to do with the comparisons, saying they haven't done nearly enough to be mentioned in the same breath with a team that changed the face of college basketball.

Well, if the Wolverines can win Monday, they will have something that eluded the Fab Five: a national title.

Michigan holds off Syracuse 04/06/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 7, 2013 12:46am]
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