INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan survived its first real test of the NCAA tournament.
The Wolverines blew a 15-point lead in the second half, but Nik Stauskas made a free throw with two seconds left to wrap up a 73-71 victory over Tennessee on Friday night. Michigan now faces the winner of Kentucky-Louisville on Sunday for the chance to make the Final Four for a second consecutive season.
Tennessee's loss was the first in the NCAA tournament for the SEC, which had been 8-0.
As one of the "First Four" teams, the Volunteers had to win three games last week and they seemed to be worn out for much of the game. With Michigan raining 3s -- the Wolverines finished 11 of 20 from behind the arc – Tennessee had no answer, and their own shooting woes didn't help.
When Stauskas hit a 3 with 3:40 left to give the Wolverines a 70-60 lead, Michigan seemed to have the game in hand.
But the Volunteers have been playing with house money since getting into the tournament as one of the "First Four", and they weren't quite ready to fold. Jordan McRae scored on a layup and was fouled, and he converted the three-point play to cut Michigan's lead to 72-67 with 1:57 to play.
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After turnovers on Michigan's next two possessions, Josh Richardson made a layup to pull Tennessee within three, 72-69, with less than 25 seconds left.
Then came complete wackiness. With Tennessee smothering anyone in a bright yellow jersey, Glenn Robinson III tried to dish the ball to Caris LeVert, who couldn't hold onto it. Tennessee recovered the ball, and McRae scored on a layup.
LeVert botched the next inbounds play, his foot slipping over the line to give Tennessee the ball with just 10 seconds to play. But the Vols had a turnover of their own, and were forced to foul in hopes of getting another possession.
They couldn't get a hand on Stauskas until there were just two seconds left, however, and the Hail Mary wasn't close.