Michigan won't be going back to the Final Four. The Wolverines took a twelve round heavyweight fight with Kentucky down to the final seconds. Unfortunately, the Wolverines were on the opposite side of a jaw dropping highlight shot, and Aaron Harrison's long last-second three would prove to be the final insurmountable obstacle on the road to North Texas.
More about this game in a bit. Right now, some thanks:
- Thanks to Jordan Morgan, for putting in more time than I can imagine to not only earn an engineering degree but to put together one of the best four-year careers at Michigan of any player I can remember. Morgan truly started at Michigan at the bottom, and while he didn't go out on top, he got incredibly close.
- Thanks to Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Caris LeVert for being Michigan's offensive catalysts this season and helping this team turn in one of the best offensive seasons I have ever seen from a basketball team. And thanks to Derrick Walton for growing into his role as a starter.
- Thanks to Jon Horford, Zak Irvin, and Spike Albrecht for the bench contributions that came at crucial times and often proved to be the difference. And to the rest of the bench, and Mitch McGary for putting in all the time without any of the individual gameday glory.
- Thanks to John Beilein, Bacari Alexander, LaVall Jordan and the rest of the staff.
This was one of the most enjoyable seasons of basketball I have had the pleasure of watching, and more than anything right now I am sad that I won't get to watch this version of Michigan play again, and also sad that they won't play together again either. This team truly seemed like it had fun together.
It is a shame it had to end. Take a bow, gentlemen. You deserve it.
Now, back to regularly scheduled postgame analysis...
Ultimately Michigan couldn't overcome the size of Kentucky — somethiing of a worry coming in and quickly a panic-inducing terror after Marcus Lee put on a show early. The Wildcats ended the game with 17 offensive rebounds, which was almost double Michigan's ten.
On top of that, Michigan couldn't stop any penetration by Kentucky's offense. The Wildcats simply sent wing players plunging into the paint against one on one matchups and often it resulted in points either on the first shot or a putback.
For what its worth, Michigan's offense made a valiant effort to keep pace. The Wolverines shot 39% from three and pulled down ten offensive rebounds of its own. Nik Stauskas led the way with 24 points and went 10 of 11 from the free throw line. Glenn Robinson III and Jordan Morgan both scored in the double digits. Caris LeVert only scored nine, but added a few big defensive plays.
It is sad to see Michigan's season come to a close, but there is no shame losing that game to that team. Michigan and Kentucky gave each other all they could handle for 40 minutes. In the end Michigan just ran out of time.
And so too did time run out on Michigan's 2013-14 season.
Go Blue, always.