Michigan holds off Syracuse to reach title game
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Michigan solved Syracuse's puzzling 2-3 zone in the first half and did just enough over the final 20 minutes.
And the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament will get a chance to do something the great Fab Five squads couldn't do in the early 1990s: win a national title.
Mitch McGary tallied 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the Wolverines' 61-56 triumph over the Orange in the Final Four on Saturday.
"The guys need me to step up when the moment's needed," McGary said of his outstanding tournament run so far. "I'm just getting a lot of open looks and make good decisions."
Michigan (31-7) is looking for its first national championship since 1989 when it takes on Louisville Monday night.
During the Fab Five era, the 1992 Michigan team lost the championship game to Duke, while the 1993 squad fell to North Carolina in the title game.
Syracuse trailed by as many as 11 early in the second half, but clamped down defensively and pulled within 57-56 with 41 seconds remaining after James Southerland hit his one and only 3-pointer of the game.
After National Player of the Year Trey Burke, who was limited to just seven points on 1-of-8 shooting, split two free throws with 28 ticks left, Brandon Triche was called for a charge at the other end. Triche drove past freshman Caris LeVert along the right wing, but Jordan Morgan stepped in and drew the offensive foul.
"I probably should have made a better decision. Probably should have pulled up, you know, and pulled up for a jump shot instead of actually taking it all the way down there because I did see him," Triche said of the play.
Jon Horford, though, made 1-of-2 from the line to keep it a one-possession game with 17 seconds to play.
Surprisingly, Syracuse didn't go for a potentially game-tying 3-pointer. Trevor Cooney drove in the paint instead and the ball was blocked away. Tim Hardaway Jr. saved it from going out of bounds and Morgan finished with an emphatic dunk at the other end to seal the outcome.
Hardaway netted 13 points, but was just 4-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-10 from beyond the arc in the win.
C.J. Fair netted 22 points to lead the Orange (30-10), who were unable to complete an all-Big East final in the league's last season before breaking apart.
Syracuse last won a national title in 2003.
Syracuse came in allowing a slim 45.75 points per game during the tournament. Its opponents shot a paltry 28.9 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from 3-point range against the lengthy and athletic zone.
Montana (34), top-seeded Indiana (50), and Marquette (39) were limited to their lowest point totals of the season, but using crisp passing and ball movement, the Wolverines managed to shoot 44.8 percent and 6-of-17 from downtown in the first half and entered the break with a 36-25 edge.
"They have a lot of length. It's tough to try to get the ball into the middle," Burke said of the zone. "You think something's open, it may not be. They pride theirselfs in deflection. We just tried to be as careful as possible. We know they strive off of turnovers. They do a good job of turning turnovers into touchdowns. We gave up some good looks, sometimes we shot some looks that weren't necessarily there."
Fair tallied nine of his teams first 14 points as the Orange jumped out to a five-point lead a little over seven minutes in.
But a triple by LeVert and a three-point play by Horford put Michigan on top, 15-14, and the Wolverines pulled away later in the half as they closed the opening 20 minutes on a 21-8 run. Burke nailed a triple to cap the surge.
Fair led an Orange charge in the second half.
Back-to-back dunks by Glenn Robinson III and McGary vaulted Michigan to a 43-32 spread with 15:10 to play before Fair netted five points during a 9-2 spurt to get Syracuse within 45-41 during the middle stages of the stanza.
A Fair jumper a bit later trimmed the spread to 48-45 before the Wolverines responded with five straight to take their eight-point advantage.
Michigan was held to 33.3 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes.
This is Michigan head coach John Beilein's first win over Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim in 10 chances ... Triche finished with 11 points and eight assists ... The Wolverines were 8-of-24 from beyond the arc, while the Orange finished just 3-of-14 from downtown.
04/07 01:47:48 ET