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Michigan overpowers Virginia Commonwealth

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Mitch McGary seemed to be everywhere on the court on Saturday but he made his biggest statement simply by standing still.

Virginia Commonwealth's Briante Weber had the misfortune of running into McGary, Michigan' freshman center, in the first half of a South Region game and was send sprawling onto The Palace court.

McGary's hard screen allowed Trey Burke to make an open jumper and epitomized the Wolverines' surprising dominance of the Rams.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound McGary and his rejuvenated teammates set a huge roadblock in Virginia Commonwealth's bid for a second Cinderella run through the NCAA Tournament in three years.

McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, both career highs, as Michigan reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994 with a 78-53 romp over the Rams.

"That's what he does," said Burke, who added 18 points. "When we're in transition, he stops and sets screens. I saw him stopping, so I used it and heard the crowd say, 'Ooh!'

"I didn't really know what happened until I saw my man on the floor. But that's Mitch McGary. He brings intensity to the team. He's kind of like our X factor."

McGary said he was just doing what he's supposed to do on his pick.

"Coach (John Beilein) wants us to set drag screens in transition," McGary said. "I saw Trey coming off, so I set him a good, hard screen and the man happened to run into my chest."

Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshman Glenn Robinson III each scored 14 for the Wolverines (28-7), the No. 4 seed. Michigan advanced to play the winner of Sunday's Kansas-North Carolina game on Friday at Cowboy Stadium in Texas.

The Wolverines look like a championship contender again after going .500 in their last 12 games entering the tournament. They were ranked No. 1 in late January.

"We know we have to be poised and we've got to make smart plays when we're out there, but Coach Beilein always stresses to us to go out there and have fun," Hardaway said. "If we keep doing that, we can go a long way."

The Wolverines shook off the Rams' vaunted pressure, shooting 51.7 percent while committing only 12 turnovers.

No. 5 seed Virginia Commonwealth (27-9) was forcing 19.9 turnovers per game, tops in the country. Michigan also controlled the boards with a 41-24 rebounding advantage.

"They played great in every facet of the game," coach Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth said. "They were obviously the much better team today. If they continue to play the way they did today, they've got a chance to go a long way in this tournament."

Juvonte Reddic's 16 points led the Rams but was overpowered by McGary.

"He was a great player," Reddic said. "He's very strong in the post. He just outworked me and got the better end of the game tonight."

Michigan took control in the closing minutes of the first half and steadily increased its lead after halftime.

McGary, whose previous high was 14 points against Ohio State, scored nine points in the first five minutes of the second half to give the Wolverines a 49-33 advantage.

"They were mainly shots around the basket and I was just getting open looks," McGary said. "Trey and Tim and Glenn were all feeding me and everybody was just feeding off my energy."

Robinson, running around in a torn jersey, then had a dunk and set up Burke's 3-pointer, pushing the lead to 57-35. Nik Stauskas made a 31-point game at 72-41 with a layup.

Burke scored 11 and Robinson contributed 10 as the Wolverines jumped to a 38-23 halftime lead. Michigan went on a late 13-2 run to get its lead into double digits.

Hardaway sparked it with a 3-pointer and Burke hit an open 19-footer after McGary sprung him loose. Robinson gave the Wolverines their biggest lead at 38-21 by converting Burke's lob for a dunk.

Rams point guard Darius Theus played only four first-half minutes because of foul trouble and Virginia Commonwealth's offense fell apart without him.

The Rams shot 30.3 percent and had only two assists in the first half, while their press failed to produce any fast-break points.

NOTES: Michigan will make its 12th Sweet 16 appearance. ... The Rams also played a Big Ten school in the third round the last two seasons, defeating Georgetown during their 2011 Final Four run and losing to Indiana last year. ... Michigan has a 7-1 record all-time at The Palace. ... This was the first meeting between the schools. ... Coach John Beilein of Michigan had a 7-3 record against Virginia Commonwealth when he coached Richmond. ... The Rams are 21-6 in postseason tournaments since 2009 under Smart.