Michigan never doubted.
Especially sophomore point guard Trey Burke.
Burke’s scoring flurry, which included 18 second-half points and five more in overtime, helped the Wolverines overcome a 10-point deficit against Kansas with less than three minutes remaining Friday night.
Michigan, which plays Florida at 1:20 p.m. Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in the NCAA South Regional final, never felt overmatched against the Jayhawks.
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No matter that Kansas led by 14 with less than seven minutes and still appeared in complete control of the game with 82 seconds remaining and an eight-point lead.
“We’re not going home. We’re not going to lose this game. Trey kept saying that,” said forward Glenn Robinson III, whose putback cut KU’s lead to 74-71 with 28 seconds left in regulation. “I think we all believed.”
During a timeout with 3:47 left in regulation and Michigan (29-7) trailing by 10, Robinson III, a freshman, told his team it was now or never.
“I just told the team if we don’t step up now we’re going to regret it probably for the rest of our lives,” he said. “We don’t get this opportunity all the time. We never thought it was over.”
Fresh in their minds was a 72-71 loss to Indiana in the regular-season finale, in which the Hoosiers rallied from a five-point deficit with 52 seconds remaining to beat the Wolverines.
“We thought we had won the game and the next thing you know they come back and win it,” Robinson III said. “We just believed the whole time [Friday].”
The furious comeback turned the game into an instant classic and elicited a tidal wave of text and phone messages to Michigan players, including Burke, who said Saturday he received about 200 messages after the game.
“I expected it,” Burke said. “Everybody on the team had a lot of messages. I think we deserved them. We fought back as a team [Friday]. I had a lot of messages from people that said they thought we were going to lose, down 10 with two minutes left.”
Michigan’s Mitch McGary could easily be wearing a Florida uniform for Sunday’s game.
The freshman took an unofficial visit to the Gainesville, Fla., campus while vacationing with a friend in the Florida Keys. It was his last visit before committing to Michigan.
“I really liked them, they were real cordial and they were all real welcoming,” McGary said. “I had a good relationship with coach [Billy] Donovan. They were my second choice.”
Michigan has two players, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, whose fathers played in the NBA.
Jon Horford’s brother, Al, plays for the Atlanta Hawks.
The last time Michigan played in the Elite 8 was March 26, 1994, at Reunion Arena in Dallas.
The Wolverines lost to Arkansas 76-68.
Kansas fans who helped push Friday’s crowd past 40,000 are apparently trying to unload their tickets for today’s final. More than 4,500 were listed Saturday evening on StubHub, with 1,300 for less than $20, and 250 of those under $5.
“I think the first couple plays of the game they wanted to punk us and then him giving me the cheap shot, they wanted to make a statement. We just said, ‘Nah, we’re not going to take this.’ And we fought back.” — Michigan’s Mitch McGary on Kansas’ Elijah Johnson hitting him below the belt early in Friday’s semifinal