CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Darius Morris is typically the most reliable Wolverine with the ball.

But with just 5.6 seconds left in the Michigan men’s basketball team’s third-round NCAA Tournament game against Duke on Sunday, Morris drove and missed a floater as the buzzer sounded. Michigan fell to the top-seeded Blue Devils, 73-71.

With less than seven minutes left, Michigan forward Jordan Morgan and Duke forward Kyle Singler sat on the bench with four fouls and Wolverine forward Evan Smotrycz was headed there as well after notching his fifth.

“(The foul trouble was) very big,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “I said in most of my previews, I said one of the big things with our team: Coach K’s teams have always got to the foul line like that. Two things happen, we’re very good foul shooters, and they put your better guys on the bench at times. So they did that … Your top eight guys will get two, three on the bench. We sure had them there.”

Morgan came in for the Wolverines and responded with a dunk to spark a comeback that put Michigan within two possessions of Duke. As the Wolverines trailed by four points with about a minute remaining, Michigan freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. hit his first 3-pointer of the afternoon. And with Hardaway Jr.’s clutch basket, the Wolverines trailed by just one possession.

“(Hardaway Jr.) had great shots,” Beilein said. “Every one that he took, when he took a shot it looked like it was going in just barely on the front rim. And the last one was like the Illinois shot (in the Big Ten Tournament). I thought it would be the one that might get us up over the top here.”

Duke responded with a jumper, and with 19.3 seconds remaining Michigan called a timeout down by just three points.

After a Duke shot-clock violation and a Morris layup, Michigan was down two points with 5.6 seconds remaining. But Michigan couldn’t complete the upset, as Morris bricked the final shot of the Wolverines surprising season.

Duke’s defense started the game playing Michigan very aggressively around the perimeter. After missing their first three 3-pointers because of the Blue Devils’ perimeter play, the Wolverines went on to make five 3-pointers to conclude the first half and to head into the locker room trailing, 37-33.

But in the second half, things changed quicker than the Wolverines could have imagined. After Hardaway Jr. missed two 3-pointers, Duke suddenly pushed its lead to 12 points thanks in large part to senior guard Nolan Smith. At that point, Duke fans erupted, and even Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski was dancing on the bench — Michigan was essentially playing a road game against the Blue Devils in Charlotte.

“At one point coach called a timeout and was trying to show us his hops,” Smith said. “Sometimes coach just wants to show that he’s athletic too and then he was just so excited.”

Though Duke had the momentum, Michigan climbed out of the hole after having five players finish in double digits. The Wolverines simply made the last mistake.

Utilizing its four-guard — and sometimes five-guard — offense, Michigan forced Duke to play just one big man when they usually play at least two. Forward Ryan Kelly was Krzyzewski choice for most of the game. Kelly scored just four points but also had to defend against freshman guard Evan Smotrycz — who tallied 11 points in the first half.

On Morris’s last shot, Kelly was the closest defender in front of him.

“(Morris) had been playing very well,” Kelly said. “I just tried to make a little distraction. At that point whatever happens — you are prepared for anything at that point.”

Along with Kelly was another unfamiliar face — freshman guard Kyrie Irving. Irving had just returned from a season-long injury in Duke’s second-round win against Hampton — where he played just 20 minutes. He had only practiced with the team two and a half times before Sunday’s game.

But Irving looked fresher than ever against the Wolverines. After not seeing much action in the first half, Irving finished with 11 points and three rebounds. More significant than anything else was his presence at the free throw line — he sank 9-of-10 shots from the charity stripe on Sunday.

Ultimately, Duke’s stellar guard pay from Irving and Smith helped Duke squeak by Michigan.

“I just thought, I don’t want to take this Duke jersey off,” Smith said. “Michigan was playing us tough so I thought I didn’t want to lose. I love playing for Duke and I look forward to playing with my teammates. I didn’t want to lose.”

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