Michigan beats South Dakota State
by Mark Snyder, USA TODAY Sports
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — In case anyone forgot, this is how it’s supposed to happen.
A year after one of the most disappointing losses in Michigan’s NCAA tournament history, the No. 4-seeded Wolverines buried 2012′s tourney ghost with a resounding 71-56 victory over No. 13 seed South Dakota State on Thursday at the Palace.
And the best part?
They did it in ways no one imagined they could, earning a Saturday date in the next round.
They did it by riding their freshmen, including Glenn Robinson III tying a career high with 21 points and surprise starter Mitch McGary with 13 points and nine rebounds.
They did it without much from star guard Trey Burke, whose six-point game was his first in single digits this year.
And they did it by playing defense — a foreign concept for much of the past six weeks — shutting down the prolific Jackrabbits from three-point range, holding them to 21% long-range shooting and 18 points below their season average.
Michigan (27-7) pushed its chips to the middle from the beginning, starting three freshmen by putting McGary in the starting lineup for only the third time all year, and the newcomers responded, combining for 42 points among the three of them.
They didn’t experience the horrific loss to Ohio University in last year’s first round, but they were determined it wouldn’t happen again.
“I can’t imagine what it would feel like ending our season on today’s game,” Michigan freshman guard Nik Stauskas said. “I can just imagine how much it hurt for (the returnees) and we all came with the idea there was no way our season was ending today.”
It would be easy to make that happen if the freshmen were supplementing the veterans. But only Tim Hardaway Jr. was there to carry the Wolverines, putting up 21 points and keeping them in the game during the tight first half with his four three-pointers.
Burke said he realized at some point in the first half that even the decent shots he was taking weren’t falling — he started 0-for-7 — so he switched his mindset to distribution.
After halftime that meant finding the high-flying Robinson … [For more on No. 4 Michigan pulls away from No. 13 South Dakota State, click here.]