Indianapolis — What do you get when you put together a strong first-half defensive effort with a second-half clinic on offense?
Another dominant outing and another trip to the Elite Eight for the Wolverines.
Top-seeded Michigan took advantage of No. 4 Florida State’s miscues all game long and used a second-half surge to pull away for a 76-58 victory in Sunday’s Sweet 16 matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Michigan (23-4) moves on to face the winner of No. 2 Alabama and No. 11 UCLA in the regional final on Tuesday. Tip-off time and venue is to be determined.
Junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. finished with a season-high 14 points and freshman center Hunter Dickinson added 14 points and eight rebounds for Michigan, which scored 24 points off turnovers and shot 69.2% from the field (18-for-26) after halftime. Sophomore wing Franz Wagner had 13 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Chaundee Brown added 12 points off the bench.
After taking an 11-point lead into halftime, Michigan continued to hold Florida State at arm’s length. The Seminoles tried to chip away at the deficit, but the Wolverines countered with an answer each time to push it back to double digits.
When Florida State used back-to-back 3-pointers — its first makes after an 0-for-9 start from beyond the arc — from Osborne and Anthony Polite to cut it to 41-36, Michigan responded with a three-point play from grad transfer guard Mike Smith and back-to-back baskets from fifth-year senior center Austin Davis to push it to 48-36 with 13:07 remaining.
That sparked a 21-7 flurry that helped the Wolverines pull away as Michigan continued to dissect Florida State’s defense and attack the basket at will. Johns scored off a feed from senior guard Eli Brooks. Davis found Brown for a bucket. By the time Wagner knifed his way to rim for two layups and dumped off a pass to Dickinson for a dunk, it all added up to a commanding 62-43 lead with 6:54 to go.
After the Wolverines emptied their bench in the closing minutes, freshman wing Jace Howard converted a three-point play to give them their largest lead, 76-53, with 1:10 remaining as they cruised to their second Elite Eight in four seasons.
Malik Osborne scored 12 and M.J. Walker 10 for Florida State (18-7), which shot 40% from the floor (24-for-60) and committed 14 turnovers.
Points were hard to come by in the early stages as the defenses dug in and the two teams were feeling one another out on the offensive end. The Seminoles’ press, switches and length posed some problems for the Wolverines before they used a roller-coaster stretch from Johns to start gaining some traction.
Johns drew a foul and made two free throws, missed a dunk, turned a steal into a fast-break dunk and then raced to beat Florida State’s defense before it could get set with another dunk for a 9-6 lead with 14:26 left in the first half.
Michigan continued to clamp down on defense as a combination of missed shots, fouls and turnovers piled up for Florida State and helped fuel the offense. The Wolverines rattled off a 10-0 run that featured back-to-back 3-pointers from Smith and Brown and an offensive putback from Davis to make it 19-8 at the 10:44 mark.
After Balsa Koprivica snapped the spurt and a four-minute scoring drought for Florida State, Michigan continued to take advantage of turnovers and used second-chance opportunities to widen the gap. Dickinson scored off his own miss and got behind his defender for an uncontested dunk before Brown soared in for an offensive rebound and putback for a 30-17 lead at the 2:47 mark.
Despite making just one basket in the final 4:45 and missing several chances to pull away, the Wolverines took a 32-21 advantage into the break as the Seminoles had as many personal fouls and turnovers (10 each) as made field goals.
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