AUBURN HILLS, Mich — Glenn Robinson III took a pass from sophomore point guard Trey Burke before rattling home a 3-pointer from the corner a minute into the second half. A minute later, there was Robinson again, sinking another 3-pointer from the same corner. A minute later, once again, there was another 3-pointer from the freshman hitting the bottom of the net.
In all, Robinson scored 11 straight points and 13 of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s first 15 points in the second half to spark a 71-56 victory against South Dakota State (13-3 Summit League, 25-10 overall) in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64.
The Wolverines advance to face VCU in the Round of 32 on Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
“The first shot gave me a boost of confidence, and then I took the next shot, and it kind of bounced in — it got my emotions high,” Robinson said. “Seeing the bench jump up and down, I felt that I couldn’t miss. I’ve been getting up extra reps, and they finally started to fall.”
The freshman forward must have gotten the message loud and clear this week from Michigan coach John Beilein, who had stated quite emphatically that the Wolverines (12-6 Big Ten, 27-7 overall) would need either him or freshman guard Nik Stauskas to be a consistent third scoring option for the team to be successful.
Robinson did more than that, shooting 7-of-8 en route to a team-high 21 points, including 17 in the second half, to go with six rebounds. It was the first time since the first week of the season that Robinson tallied three 3-pointers in a game, and Michigan is now 18-1 when Robinson scores in double digits.
“We say it to him every day in practice: he’s got to look at the basket,” said Michigan coach John Beilein.
Junior swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. also put in 21 points, making five of Michigan’s nine 3-pointers.
The highly anticipated matchup between Burke and Jackrabbit point guard Nate Wolters took a backseat for much of the contest. Burke finished with just six points and seven assists, shooting 2-of-12 from the field. Wolters didn’t fare much better, tallying 10 points, six assists and five rebounds while connecting on just three of his 14 field-goal attempts.
Sensing that the Wolverines couldn’t afford another slow start, Beilein inserted freshman forward Mitch McGary into the starting lineup in place of struggling redshirt junior Jordan Morgan, and it paid dividends for the young squad that has continuously struggled early in games.
McGary and Hardaway led Michigan in the first half, taking a 30-26 lead into the intermission.
McGary, who has been the Wolverines’ spark off the bench all season, responded by providing energy to an otherwise lackluster start for Michigan. He scored the first five points of the contest for Michigan and entered halftime with seven points and four rebounds — two of which came on the offensive glass. He finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds.
“Mitch brought energy, he brought toughness, he brought poise, and that’s what we need out of our bigs,” Hardaway said.
While Burke sturggled to produce on the offensive end, Hardaway provided a nice boost for Michigan. He led the team with 12 points in the first stanza, knocking down 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
Neither Burke nor Wolters could find much rhythm in the first half. Besides a couple nifty crossovers by Wolters, neither player did much of anything before intermission. Burke entered halftime having missed all seven of his field-goal attempts, scoring just two points to go along with three assists and two turnovers.
“(Wolters) is a heck of a player, he’s very tough to guard because he has a lot of length, he could shoot and he’s capable of getting into the paint,” Burke said. “I think overall, we did a good job of running him off the 3-point line and making him take tough twos.”
But while the Wolverines were able to limit Wolters, they couldn’t seem to figure out a way to stop Jackrabbits guard Braydon Carlson. Carlson repeatedly knocked down open looks, tallying 16 of South Dakota State’s 26 first-half points. He connected on six of his eight field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers.
Brayden finished the game with a team-high 20 points and eight rebounds, but with Wolters struggling the Jackrabbits had no counter for a Michigan offense clicking on all cylinders. The Wolverines shot better than 5o percent from the field and 4o percent from beyond the arc, the first time they’ve done so in nearly two months.