Friday, March 21 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-03-21 11:28:45 GMT
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ATLANTA (RNN) - Mitch McGary and the Michigan Wolverines overcame some late missed free throws to beat Syracuse 61-56 in the second Final Four contest Saturday.
Leading by six with less than a minute remaining, Big Blue allowed the Orange to sneak back in by not knocking down 4 of 6 attempts from the foul line. Syracuse had two chances to tie with less than 30 seconds left but could not convert in either one.
"It was a close game throughout the whole game," Michigan's Trey Burke said. "I kept telling the guys coming out of halftime that Syracuse is a talented team, and they're going to go on runs. This game is a game of runs. We just stuck together."
The Wolverines put the exclamation point on the game with a breakaway slam by Jordan Morgan in the final moments. McGary, a freshman, missed two of the free throws but added another impressive tournament performance with 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Coach John Beilein said McGary's ability has always been there, and it is something that has kept coming further along during the season.
"Sometimes you look at him and there are some brilliant things he does," Beilein said. Then, there are other times when you can see he has a lot to learn. He embraces all that. That's what is most impressive, but the best is yet to come."
Both teams have relied heavily on their standout point guards this season, but others had to step up as Burke and the Orange's Michael Carter-Williams had off nights.
Burke, the national player of the year, was held to seven points on 1 of 8 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 13 and Glenn Robinson III added 10 more.
Carter-Williams scored two points (1 of 6 field goals) with two assists and five rebounds. The Orange were led by C.J. Fair's 22 points.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said his team got off to a bad start all around in the first half, when Michigan opened up a 36-25 lead. In the second half, the defense improved and allowed them to reduce the deficit.
"I thought we just did an unbelievable job of getting back in it and giving ourselves a chance,' Boeheim said. "That's all you can ask for in that situation, when you're down eight [in the second half], to be able to make that kind of move back. I was really proud of these guys."
The Wolverines move on to face Louisville in the national championship Monday.
"Playing for the title is what we've been working for all season," Hardaway said. "This team made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. We're just going to try to do a great job of containing Louisville and make sure we play Michigan basketball."
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