Old school basketball faced off against new school today, as Kentucky big men competed against Michigan's great guards. Kentucky likes to post up, and attack the boards, which got Kentucky to the Elite Eight in the first place. Michigan likes to place small, as their top three scorers are under 6'6 feet.
Today, these two ways of playing were match up for a chance to reach the Final Four. At the beginning of the game, Kentucky was absolutely dominating Michigan on the boards, but Nik Stauskas was dominating the Kentucky guards. Kentucky even got 3 straight offensive put backs by Marcus Lee (Who had not played in the Tournament before today!), and was able to get as many shot attempts as possible. Nik Stauskas, on the other hand, kept Michigan in the game with 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The game remained in this fashion, until Michigan finally started jumping on loose rebounds. Michigan caught up with Kentucky, as Michigan eventually tied to rebounding category (10 rebounds for each at 8 minute mark). Kentucky started slowing down on offense, as they were only getting one shot attempt. Michigan, on the other side of the court, was able to grab 3 offensive rebounds on 5 possessions, and Nik Stauskas continued his great shooting.
With Kentucky slowing down on the boards, Michigan ran out to a 12-3 run, and had a 10 point lead! However, Kentucky quickly fought back as they jumped out to a 15-5 run! Kentucky was able to knock down jumpers, and continue to shoot lay ups and free throws, while Michigan was static on offense.
Michigan was trying to play one on one, but Kentucky was much more athletic, and stopped anyone going one on one. At the end of the half, there was two big runs, but both evened each other out, as the score was tied 37-37 at halftime.
Kentucky continued on their roll going into the second half. Michigan was losing for the first time in the tournament as Kentucky went up 39-37 (47 seconds into second half) off of Julius Randle's dunk.
The game went back and forth as Michigan scored 10 straight points off of jumpers, and Kentucky scored 10 straight points in the paint. Michigan played off Caris Levert as Levert scored 7 points for the Wolverines in the second half. UK played off of Julius Randle, as Randle completely took over in the second half.
Randle scored 4 points in the first half, but in the second half, Randle got on a roll and scored 10 points. Randle and Kentucky's dominance on the boards (Giving second chances to make more shots), gave Kentucky a six point lead early in the half.
The game continued in this direction, until Caris Levert made three great defensive stops and the Wolverines forced Kentucky into 1 of 8 shooting. On the other end, the Wolverines were playing great team basketball and went on a 16-9 run. The run put Michigan up by 4, and looked like it was time to take control of the game.
However, Kentucky responded right back to the Wolverines challenge. Kentucky went on an 11-0 run, and was led by Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison. Harrison and Randle scored 9 of the 11 points on the run, and Kentucky was up 62-55.
Kentucky needed three more points to push the lead to double digits and take control of the game. However, Glenn Robinson, who also stepped up in the second half (10 points in second half), hit an important three to push the deficit to only 4 points.
Kentucky came back, but Andrew Harrison dribbled the ball out of bounds, and the Wolverines got the ball right back. After two empty possessions for both teams, the Wolverines continued to play great team basketball, and Jordan Morgan made an open lay up (Plus a free throw) to push the lead to one point with 5 minutes left.
From there, Kentucky and Michigan went back and forth. Aaron Harrison hit a three, Jordan Morgan threw down another dunk, UK got an open lay up, Glenn Robinson made a lay up, Dakari Johnson made a lay up, and Nik Stauskas made two free throws. Kentucky hit one three through the entire mess, and had the 69-67 lead with 2 minutes left in the game.
The Harrison twins connected on the next possession, and Aaron made another huge three pointer (three 3's in last 5 minutes)! Kentucky had clinched the game, right?
NO. Glenn Robinson stepped up, and hit another three pointer to put the game back to two points! Glenn Robinson and Aaron Harrison were going back and forth! On the next possession, Michigan forced UK into a poor offensive possession and a shot clock turnover.
Michigan took advantage of the opportunity, on the next possession, and gave UK a taste of their own medicine. Michigan missed 3 straight three pointers, but grabbed 3 straight offensive rebounds. Eventually, Jordan Morgan made the tip back shot to tie the game.
The score was 72-72, and Kentucky had the ball with 30 seconds. Kentucky threw the ball in-bounds, The Harrison twins played hot potato with the ball, but Aaron Harrison decided he wanted to try being the hero.
Harrison dribbled the ball a couple of times, made a jab step, shot the ball from three feet outside of the three point line, and.....
MADE THE 23 FOOT THREE POINTER! Aaron Harrison had bought a ticket to the Final Four for the Kentucky Wildcats! Michigan had a chance to tie the game, but Nik Stauskas missed a half court three pointer. The Wolverines made big shots near the end of the game, but it was the Wildcats who made one more big play.
The Kentucky Wildcats will be heading to the Final Four!