The forgotten man of Michigan’s freshmen triumvirate was the catalyst in what quickly became a rout at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Mitch McGary’s path to the spotlight is a familiar one for anyone who has watched Hoosiers. While that statement is a generalization annoyingly applied to Caucasian basketball players from Indiana, that’s not what I meant. I also hated that movie. After spending the majority of the regular season as the sixth man, the 20-year-old from Porter drew a surprise start against South Dakota State. It was well deserved. McGary finished the opener with 13 points and nine rebounds, helping Michigan advance despite a quiet day from star Point Guard Trey Burke.
On Saturday afternoon Michigan’s stars showed up, yet it was McGary once again who stole the show.
From the outset McGary’s energy was on display, playing an active role in solving VCU’s vaunted havoc defense. A McGary dunk spurred a 12-2 run in the latter stages of the first half and gave Michigan a 15 point cushion at half. From then on it was clear sailing for John Beilein’s club.
The most promising sign for the Wolverines was Trey Burke’s performance. Burke had an injury scare on Thursday night, hitting the floor hard during the second half against the Jackrabbits. After undergoing extensive treatment, his sore back didn’t hinder him today. While Burke’s shooting percentage wasn’t great (42%), his ability to break Shaka Smart’s full court press created a myriad of good looks for his teammates.
McGary led all scorers with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Glen Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 14 points apiece and Burke dropped 18 points and seven dimes. Mississauga native Nik Stauskas registered eight points. Michigan moves on to the Sweet 16, where they will face Kansas or North Carolina — a mouth watering matchup no matter who comes through.
We end with backup PG Spike Albrecht’s ridiculous bounce pass to Glenn Robinson III.