ARLINGTON, Texas -- It all came unraveled so fast for Kansas. With 2:53 left in the Jayhawks' South Regional semifinal, they had a 10-point lead over Michigan, but then Trey Burke went to work, assisting on one basket, hitting a three, streaking downcourt for a layup to cut KU's lead to three with 14 seconds left.
Then came the shot heard 'round the NCAA Tournament, Burke launching from 28 feet, slightly left of center with a defender's hand in his face. Nothing but net. Pandemonium. Game tied with 4.2 seconds left. In overtime, Burke completed the comeback, scoring all 23 of his points and passing out half of his 10 assists after halftime in the Wolverines' 87-85 victory.
Was it like he imagined it playing in the driveway as a kid? You know, with a Cowboys Stadium crowd of 40,639 and a national TV audience. "Yeah, I did that a lot," Burke said Saturday with a grin. "It wasn't from that deep, though."
As the laughter ebbed, Burke added, "It was probably the biggest shot I ever made and definitely a shot I'll always remember."
The hard part for Burke now is putting that moment out of his mind to focus on leading Michigan (29-7) against Florida (29-7) in Sunday's regional final. "It's crazy, especially seeing where I shot it from," Burke said of the replay. "Looking back, it's definitely hard not to continue to think about it, but we have to move forward from it."
The shot got Florida's attention, too. Gators forward Patric Young said the Jayhawks "should have fouled him as soon as he crossed half-court. He had to shoot the three. You have to step up and foul him."
Kansas failed to do that, and now, Burke is the Gators' problem. Stopping FGCU point guard Brett Comer and the 15th-seeded Eagles in the Sweet 16 was one thing, but facing Burke and such offensive threats as Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary is quite another.
Young said Comer, who had nine turnovers, "got predictable" in the sense they knew where he was looking to pass. "This is twice the challenge because Burke is quicker, and he's one of the best scoring point guards in the country, as well as a great passer," Young said. "We have to do a phenomenal job."Burke has faced a string of top defenders in the Big Ten, so Florida's Scottie Wilbekin will be nothing special. The Gators need a group effort to prevent Burke from executing the high pick-and-roll with center McGary as Hardaway, Robinson and Nik Stauskas find open space on the perimeter.
"Florida doesn't let you use the screen," Burke said. "I want to get my [defender] onto Mitch McGary so I can give him the ball where it's a mismatch."
Florida's Wilbekin understands there really is no defense for a shot like the one Burke made. "A guy had a hand in his face, and he still hit it," Wilbekin said. "If he shoots like that, they'll be tough to beat. If he wants to take those long shots, we'll live with it."