(USA Today) ARLINGTON, Texas - For nearly 38 minutes, Kansas looked like it was back on track to return to the national title game.
It had kept national player of the year candidate Trey Burke scoreless for more than a half. It had watched redshirt freshman Ben McLemore break out of a slump to score 20 points. And it had built a 10-point lead against Michigan with 2:52 to play in the South Regional semifinals at Cowboys Stadium.
WATCH: Burke's game-tying shot
BOX SCORE: Wolverines 87, Jayhawks 85
But Kansas never closed the Wolverines out. And Mitch McGary set one of his trademark concrete screens and Burke found a sliver of daylight, which was all he needed to bury a three-pointer from about 28 feet out to tie the game with 4.3 seconds left in regulation.
Top-seeded Kansas has essentially already beaten fourth-seeded Michigan once. In overtime, the Jayhawks would have to do it again, and against a player in Burke who had finally found his shooting touch. And Michigan found a way to earn one of the more improbable victories in recent NCAA
The combination of Burke (23 points) and McGary (25) helped put Michigan up by three points with one minute left in overtime. But the Jayhawks were not done and had a final chance to tie or potentially win the game with possession of the ball with eight seconds left.
With time running down, Kansas' Elijah Johnson penetrated toward the basket and appeared to have an open look for a layup. But he tossed the ball all the way back out to Naadir Tharpe, who badly missed a wild three-point shot attempt at the buzzer.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: Updated bracket
As the two teams shook hands, Johnson - who early in the game was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul for appearing to hit McGary below the belt - remained in the corner of the court, hands on knees, motionless.
In 2008, Kansas coach Bill Self was on the other side of an improbable rally when the Jayhawks came back from a nine-point deficit in the final few minutes to beat Memphis in the national championship game. On Friday, he watched his Jayhawks squander a similar advantage and conclude a season filled with extreme highs and lows.
Michigan, which made its first Sweet 16 since 1994, sputtered to a 6-6 record down the stretch of a grueling Big Ten schedule. But the Wolverines recovered to easily beat Nate Wolters and South Dakota State and then successfully navigated VCU's frenzied defense in two NCAA tournament games.
Cowboys Stadium was filled with more Jayhawks fans, but many were so far away from the court it hardly created a decisive advantage for Kansas. The Jayhawks did not need one at the game's start. They rushed out to a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into action by scoring almost at will inside the paint.
Kansas scored its first 22 points in the paint, making 11 of its first 15 field goal attempts. The Jayhawks did not score their first points from the perimeter until McLemore's three-pointer put them up eight points, 25-17, at the 8:48 mark of the first half. McLemore's basket from beyond the arc was another great sign for the Jayhawks because the redshirt freshman had been 0 for 10 from three-point range in a little more than two full NCAA tournament games.
McGary absorbed the hardest blow in the first half; Kansas' Elijah Johnson was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul after he appeared to hit McGary below the belt. The shot did little to deter McGary, who was Michigan's best offensive weapon throughout the first half.
Burke missed all four of his field goal attempts in the half. He had more turnovers (three) than points (zero) at the break. And with the Jayhawks shooting nearly 70% in the half, Michigan was fortunate to be down just six points at halftime.
But Burke and Michigan got the last laugh, and in stunning fashion.