CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Darius Morris’s family still loves him.

As the Michigan men’s basketball sophomore guard walked over to his family in the stands at the end of the Wolverines’ 73-71 loss to Duke on Sunday, members of his family told him to keep his head up and received him with open arms.

Morris just finished going through the motion of his final shot against the Blue Devils — the one that bricked as the clock dwindled down in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte — after all the fans left and all that remained were media and the cleanup crew.

He pretended to take a few shots from the same spot that he missed the potential game-tying shot from. Morris wasn’t in tears and he wasn’t in fury. Instead, he looked calm but upset.

Morris knows that he has made that shot a dozen times this season. In fact, he has made that shot probably hundreds of times in his life. It was essentially an open jumper from just four feet away with the basket at his center.

But this wasn’t the pick-up game where he probably made it in, or the game against Concordia in which he made it, or even one of the three games against No. 1 Ohio State where he made it. This time, it was in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

This time, it was against No. 1 seed Duke, and this time the two teams were playing in what’s essentially Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski’s backyard.

This time, Morris had to make this shot to save Michigan’s season.

Morris bricked the attempt. Though there wasn’t even a hand in his face, he missed the shot that would have sent Michigan to overtime against Duke.

With 5.6 seconds remaining the Wolverines were down two points and had zero timeouts. Morris received the outlet pass after a missed free throw by the Blue Devils and ran the floor in the time he had. He omitted to pass the ball to other options in junior guard Zack Novak or freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. in the corner or the wing.

No one would probably disagree with him either — Morris’s percentage from inside the paint is probably the most consistent option Michigan has.

“I think, too, on that shot, a clean look would have been if we let him go to the basket,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He played a great game. That kid is one of the best guards in the country. He reminds me of Andre Miller, you know, and how he plays, because he can run the point from out on top and he can run the point from inside.”

And though one can blame or praise Morris for attempting that shot, the Los Angeles native is one of the biggest reasons that the Wolverines were in this position.

Morris finished the game with a team-high 16 points and recorded six assists and three rebounds. All season, Morris has been the guy to step up and make plays for Michigan when it needed them most.

After saying at the Big Ten media day in Chicago earlier this season that the team would reach the 20-win mark and Michigan proceeded to lose six conference games in a row at one point. Morris looked like a dreamer.

But then Morris — who leads the Wolverines in scoring, averaging 15 points a game — did exactly that. The Wolverines recorded their 20th win against Illinois right before getting selected to go dancing as a No. 8 seed.

The floor general is an integral component in the success of Michigan coach John Beilein’s offensive scheme. Since Morris can run the point from either the top or inside the paint, Michigan’s 3-point shooting weapons become much more lethal with him on the floor. Not to mention, he can score himself.

“His baskets were on extended dribbles,” Krzyzewski said. “And just to make sure that our transition defense didn’t give up the layup, it wasn’t the shot that he has been hitting … (Morris) played a great game. That kid, he’s very, very good. I mean, he’s very good.”

Morris missed the shot that could have extended the Wolverines season by another game at least, but he’s also the reason Michigan has been so competitive with some of the top teams in the nation.

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