Michigan ends Vols’ NCAA Tourney run; UConn holds off Iowa State

Posted March 28, 2014, at 10:11 p.m.
Last modified March 29, 2014, at 12:59 a.m.
Tennessee Volunteers guard Josh Richardson (1) tries to dunk past Michigan Wolverines forward Jordan Morgan (52). Tennessee lost to Michigan 73-71 in the Midwest Regional Friday in Indianapolis
Sam Riche | MCT
Tennessee Volunteers guard Josh Richardson (1) tries to dunk past Michigan Wolverines forward Jordan Morgan (52). Tennessee lost to Michigan 73-71 in the Midwest Regional Friday in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — It all depends on one’s perspective.

Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes thought he beat Michigan forward Jordan Morgan to the spot on a drive to the basket with 6.0 seconds left in Friday night’s Midwest Region semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Morgan and the Wolverines thought otherwise.

So did official David Hall and his vote was the only one that mattered.

Stokes’ offensive foul denied the Volunteers a chance to complete a comeback from a 15-point deficit midway through the second half as second-seeded Michigan held on for a 73-71 victory.

It was the last in a series of clutch plays for Morgan, an unheralded 6-foot-8 senior who many thought would be devoured by Tennessee’s beefy 1-2 post tandem of Stokes and Jeronne Maymon.

Instead, Morgan outscored the duo by himself, netting a team-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and grabbing a game-high seven rebounds.

“I thought he took it personally,” Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas said of the talk that the Volunteers would dominate in the paint. “He made their big guys earn everything they got.”

Stokes managed just 11 points on nine shots from the field and Maymon scored only one bucket, playing just 17 minutes as he stayed in foul trouble all night.

Still, 11th-seeded Tennessee nearly erased a 60-45 hole with 10:55 remaining after it figured out a way to stop Michigan (28-8) while using the scoring of guards Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson to rally.

McRae accounted for 13 of his game-high 24 points in the last 11 minutes, drawing the Volunteers (24-13) within 72-71 on a baseline drive after a turnover with 10.8 seconds left. Richardson netted 19.

But after Michigan guard Caris LeVert stepped out of bounds while catching an inbounds pass with 9.6 seconds remaining, giving Tennessee a chance to pull off an unexpected win, neither McRae or Richardson got a say on the most critical sequence.

The Volunteers isolated Stokes on Morgan. Stokes drove the left baseline, lowered his shoulder and made contact with Morgan. Hall emphatically signaled charge.

“I don’t think I fouled him,” Stokes said, “but you have to give (Morgan) credit. He anticipated the play and got the call.”

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin was clearly unhappy with the call.

“I thought both guys were moving,” he said, “but the referee called it a charge.”

Stauskas scored the last of his 14 points on a free throw with 2.1 seconds left but missed the back end of a one-and-one. However, all the Volunteers could get was a hurried 55-footer by McRae that was not close as time expired.

The end-of-game comeback almost wiped out a beautiful first 30 minutes for Michigan, which shot 55.1 percent from the field, including 11-of-20 3-pointers, and put four players in double figures.

Forward Glenn Robinson III scored 13 points for the Wolverines, which will play Kentucky in Sunday’s regional final, and LeVert added 10 — all in the first half.

But Michigan’s comfortable lead was on the verge of disappearing until Morgan stepped up one more time against an opponent who was supposed to have its way with him.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” LeVert said. “Everyone thinks we won’t have the advantage inside. But Jordan was motivated to play this game. He made a great play at the end.”

NOTES: Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin played with Glenn Robinson, the father of Michigan F Glenn Robinson III, at Purdue from 1991 to 1994. … Robinson III, injured Wolverines C Mitch McGary and Volunteers G Jordan McRae all participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer in Las Vegas. … Tennessee is one of only five teams in Division I to rank in the top 20 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency, joining Florida, Louisville, Virginia and Wichita State.

Connecticut 81, Iowa State 76

NEW YORK — The Connecticut Huskies used clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, turning back the Iowa State Cyclones 81-76 in the semifinals of the NCAA East Regional on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies (29-8), the seventh seed, were 11 of 12 from the line in the final 47 seconds of the game. They finished 20 of 22.

Iowa State (28-8), the third seed, closed to six points at 77-71 with 14 seconds to play before UConn forward DeAndre Daniels buried four straight shots from the stripe for an 81-73 cushion.

Daniels led the Huskies with 27 points and 10 rebounds. UConn faces Michigan State for a spot in the Final Four.

UConn guard Shabazz Napier added 19 points and guard Ryan Boatwright chipped in with 16 points.

Iowa State, which entered the game with the country’s fifth highest-scoring offense at 83.2 points per game, was held to one of its lowest outputs of the season.

Junior forward Dustin Hogue scored a career-high 34 points for Iowa State. Cyclones forward Melvin Ejim, the Big 12 Player of the Year, was in foul trouble and struggled with his shot. Ejim finished with just seven points, well below his 18.1 average.

Guard DeAndre Kane, shadowed by Napier for most of the game, scored 16 points for the Cyclones.

The Huskies are 35-8 in their last 12 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, dating to their 6-0 run to the national championship in 1999. Included in that span are NCAA titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

Iowa State got to within five points at 70-65 on a layup from guard Naz Long with 1:38 to play before guard Terrence Samuel hit two free throws with 36 seconds left and Napier made two from the line with 47 seconds left for a 74-67 Huskies lead.

Iowa State cut the UConn lead to 10 points several times in the final six minutes of the game but could not put together more than four-point run.

Kentucky 74, Louisville 69

INDIANAPOLIS — The Kentucky Wildcats trailed virtually all Friday night, but stormed from behind down the stretch to score a season sweep of commonwealth rivals the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals and make an unlikely appearance in the Midwest Region championship game.

Guard Aaron Harrison nailed a 3-pointer with 39.1 seconds left to give the eighth-seeded Wildcats the lead for good in a 74-69 win at Lucas Oil Stadium, assuring there will be a new national champion.

Harrison was just 2-for-12 from the field before that shot, but took a pass from forward Julius Randle and drilled a 22-footer from the left corner as Kentucky fans in a crowd of 41,072 roared.

Center Dakari Johnson, playing more than usual after backup Willie Cauley-Stein appeared to sustain a leg injury early in the first half, supplied 15 points, as did Randle and Harrison. Guard Andrew Harrison added 14.

Guard Russ Smith paced No. 4 Louisville (31-6) with a game-high 23 points, while guard Luke Hancock hit for 19, 14 after halftime. Forward Montrezl Harrell scored 15 before fouling out with 1:26 left in the game.

The Cardinals had a chance to tie it when guard Wayne Blackshear was fouled by Randle with 14.2 seconds left, but he made just one of two free throws.

After Randle sank two foul shots with 13.0 seconds remaining, Smith came up short on a fade-away 3. Aaron Harrison iced it with two foul shots with 2.3 seconds left to finish off a game-ending 15-3 run.

The Wildcats (27-10) will meet Michigan, a 73-71 winner over Tennessee, Sunday for a trip to the national semifinals next weekend in Arlington, Texas.

Louisville came out of the gate flying, establishing an 18-5 lead at the 12:32 mark of the first half as guard Wayne Blackshear slipped behind the defense for a layup.

Kentucky finally gave its large crowd something to cheer about with an 11-3 spurt that got the margin chopped to 21-16 on two free throws by guard Andrew Harrison with 7:24 remaining in the half.

The Wildcats kept chipping away and closed within a point as forward Julius Randle made a free throw with 46 seconds left, but Cardinals guard Russ Smith capped a 15-point half with a driving layup that made his team’s lead 34-31 at the half.

Michigan State 61, Virginia 59

NEW YORK — Since his return from a broken hand in early March, forward Branden Dawson has ignited the Michigan State Spartans.

On Friday, he led them to a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight by scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Michigan State’s 61-59 win over top-seeded Virginia in the East Regional semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

The fourth-seeded Spartans (29-8) face Connecticut in the finals on Sunday.

Dawson averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in five postseason games for the Spartans, including the Big Ten tournament. He missed nine games with the injury before returning March 1.

He recorded his first double-double since coming back.

Forward Adreian Payne added 16 points for the Spartans. Payne and Dawson accounted for 11 of the Spartans’ final 15 points of the game.

Payne’s two free throws with 33 seconds to go put the Spartans ahead 58-54 before guard Travis Trice sank two from the line for a 60-56 Spartans lead.

Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left. Brogdon and Harris led the Cavaliers with 17 points apiece.

Payne drilled a 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead 54-51 and a Dawson alley-oop made it 56-51 with 53 seconds left to play. Virginia guard Justin Anderson’s 3-pointer from the right corner tied the game at 51-51 with 1:42 to play.

The Spartans went five minutes without scoring until a Dawson dunk with 13:27 to play drew Michigan State to within two points at 36-34. That was the start of an 11-4 run that gave the Spartans a 43-40 edge with 9:18 to play.

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