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26 March 2018, 01:01 | Stacy Ballard
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Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton defended his team's decision not to foul while trailing by four points in the final 11 seconds of the Seminoles' loss to MI in the Elite Eight.
So it was weird seeing Leonard Hamilton react like Dana Jacobson just asked him to solve a quantum physics equation.
The exchange overshadowed FSU's furious rally to get back in a contest that was controlled early by MI.
With Michigan fans holding their breath, Savoy then missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer and two more 3-pointers in the final minute, including a final shot under pressure with 12 seconds left. As for Florida State, they were posted at 280/1 and they obviously had a nice run but couldn't take it any further.
It's why MI freshman Jordan Poole was counted on to hit a game-winning shot against Houston in the second round, and why he finished scoreless in two minutes of playing time against Florida State. MI only made 66.7 percent of its free throws Saturday (16-for-24). Even if MI hit both free throws, Florida State could have scored 6 points in 10 seconds to force overtime. Hamilton rotated 10 players, living up to his mantra that it would take a team effort to earn a victory.
Photo Charles Matthews, who scored a game-high 17 points, and Duncan Robinson after MI held on for a narrow victory.
Cofer tipped in a missed shot with 24 seconds left, trimming Michigan's lead to 56-54. "The way MI was shooting free throws, do you continue to foul and extend the game?"
It barely held up as the Seminoles (23-12) stormed back with an 8-1 burst, slicing the deficit to 55-52 on a 3-pointer by PJ Savoy with 1:16 remaining.
When shots aren't falling, MI knows it can rely on defense, discipline and tenacity. Many were very quick to criticize Hamilton for not choosing to foul.
The question from Jacobson was fair, and Hamilton was probably just frustrated about having his strategy called into question following such a big game. "... The game was over". When asked in the postgame, Hamilton appeared flustered and didn't know what happened.
On the other hand, Hamilton is more than likely correct - the game was essentially over.
But that was enough as the Seminoles, in dropping a 58-54 season-ender, could not get the ball to drop at the end. They are now averaging 74.1 points, ranking them 166th overall. "He was nothing but professional with me throughout this weekend as I believe I was with them". "They had a fantastic finish".
Staples Center was largely packed with maize-and-blue fans of the Wolverines, who have a vast alumni base in California.
The Wolverines seemed to need all of those cheers to survive an off-shooting night.
Maybe it's John Beilein's version of the Texas Two-Step. The crowd included Rudy Tomjanovich, the MI alumnus and former Lakers coach, who watched in Wolverines gear near courtside.
"I felt like we were in Ann Arbor", Beilein said. The three wins have netted an additional $525,000 as the Seminoles defeated Missouri in the first round ($50,000), Xavier in the second ($225,000) and Gonzaga in the regional semifinal ($250,000). The expected path was different, but they were able to defeat Montana, Houston, and Texas A&M to get to the regional final. "We're still going to win the game with our defense".
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