ARLINGTON, Texas — Trey Burke’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation didn’t give the Michigan men’s basketball team the game.
But it gave the Wolverines an extra five minutes for redemption. The Wolverines didn’t just redeem themselves against one of the nation’s most storied college basketball programs. Michigan pulled off what is likely its most significant upset during John Beilein’s tenure as head coach — if one can call it an upset, given Michigan’s stature in college basketball this season — with an 87-85 win over No. 1 seed Kansas in an NCAA tournament South regional semifinal.
“We were determined in the last five to seven minutes,” said Burke, who finished with 23 points. “This was not about me. This was a team effort.”
Yet Burke’s shot with 4.2 seconds left in the second half helped the Wolverines wipe out Kansas’ lead, which stood at 11 points (70-59) with 4:38 left in the second half.
No. 4 Michigan will face No. 3 Florida in an Elite Eight game Sunday at Cowboys Stadium — Sunday’s winner advances to the Final Four in Atlanta.
“We had a chance to seal the game, but we made some boneheaded plays late,” Kansas guard Travis Releford said.
Kansas coach Bill Self didn’t mince words about the meltdown.
“The last three minutes we didn’t do a lot of things right, which is something we’ll look back on and regret, for a long time,” Self said.
The Wolverines (29-7) outscored the Jayhawks (31-6) 14-6 in the final 3:53 of regulation, an exoneration that came from the combination of Kansas’ complacency late in the second half, and Michigan’s opportunistic manner.
“We got a couple of steals, a couple easy buckets, and we had to rebound and get them off the glass,” said Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III, whose team trailed 40-34 at the half. “I think we did that and we just started attacking the rim. We’d seen our shots weren’t falling, so we had to attack the rim.”
In the first half, Michigan went 14 for 32 from the floor, but finished 31-64 after the second half, and got a boost from 6-foot-10 forward Mitch McGary, who finished with 25 points — including 14 in the second half — in a matchup against 7-foot Kansas center Jeff Withey.
“He thought I was shorter than that,” quipped McGary, who had 14 rebounds, “but I showed him all of my 6-foot-10.”
But the end of the second half came down to Burke, who responded after being held scoreless in the first half. Before he hit the game-tying shot, Burke scored 15 second-half points — including three 3-pointers — and after Elijah Johnson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12 seconds left, the Wolverines drove back down the court and Burke squared up for a play originally designed to generate a short bucket for the Wolverines — and the hope of drawing a foul on the shooter.
Instead, Burke saw things differently from his vantage point on the court Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.
“I knew we still had a chance, with about 10 seconds left,” Burke said. “Coach [Beilein] called a play for me, but it was really to try to get me into the paint, a quick layup. I saw that they were going to switch, and there was about six seconds left and I pretty much knew we didn’t have a lot of time.
“I just tried to hit the shot. I stepped back, got some separation, and hit the shot.”
The shot sent the Wolverines to overtime, tied at 76-76.
“We were switching a five, and I don’t know what happened,” Withey said. “I don’t think we got to him in time, and he hit an unbelievable shot.”
In the five-minute overtime, the lead changed hands five times in the first 2:25 before McGary’s four points, followed by a pair of free throws by Robinson, gave the Wolverines an 87-82 lead.
Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left, and on its final possession with 9.4 seconds left in overtime, Naadir Tharpe hoped to replicate Burke’s highlight-reel shot at the end of regulation.
Instead, his 3-point attempt clanked off the backboard.
“We definitely didn’t see fear,” Michigan guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., said. “Everyone knew the game wasn’t over. We’d been in this situation before, earlier in the year, and we just had to go out there and gut it out.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.