INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan did not expect the test it encountered against Minnesota in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday.
But the Gophers weren’t prepared for Trey Burke, either. The Big Ten freshman of the year scored 30 points in a 73-69 win over Minnesota to advance to a Saturday matchup against the winner of Friday’s game between Ohio State and Purdue. Burke did whatever he wanted when he wanted to do it against the Gophers.
“Well, the coaches just tell me to take whatever the defense gave me. We [saw] that in the first half. They had a little trouble guarding the pick-and-roll action, so the top of the key was kind of open for an 8-foot jump shot,” Burke said after the game. “Towards the second half, they were kind of making me not use the screen, so it allowed us to be able to get down in the lane and shoot lay-ups. And a couple times they had pinched in, and that's when I hit the shooters on the wing. Like we say, we knocked down big shots when it mattered.”
The Gophers, a 10-seed, took a nine-point lead on a Rodney Williams' dunk with 4:33 to go. An upset was brewing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But Michigan clicked in the final minutes and sent the game into overtime -- Minnesota is the only team that’s ever played in two overtime games in a single Big Ten tournament -- after Evan Smotrycz hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds to play. The Wolverines proved to be too tough in overtime.
Burke scored six points in the final 32 seconds (a layup and four free throws) to seal the win.
For Michigan, Friday’s game was a challenge that could help it prepare for the NCAA tournament.
“Sometimes you like to see your team go through … a little trouble like that to see how they're going to respond and see how tough we are. I think we passed the test today,” said Zack Novak. “We played a team that was fighting for their lives. They came to play and they played very well. And for us, we didn't do some of the things that we typically do. To be able to come out of this game with a win is huge, and that's what you gotta do at this time of the year.”