The Michigan star left the court for a bit but came back pretty quickly. No big deal — Burke was OK, and his teammates had this game under control.
Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan to a 71-56 NCAA tournament win over 13th-seeded South Dakota State on Thursday night.
Burke scored only six points, including two field goals. The good news for Michigan (27-7) is he’ll be back to try and do better in Saturday’s third-round game.
“I hit my back and my elbow and a piece of my head, but I’m fine,” Burke said. “My elbow’s just a little sore, and my tailbone is a little sore, but besides that, I’m fine.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points and picked up some of the slack for Burke, who was held in single digits for the first time all season.
“We knew he was frustrated. I could see it in his body language in the first half,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. “Nate’s a tremendous defender and he doesn’t get much credit for it, but he did a good job.”
The Wolverines will face either Virginia Commonwealth or Akron on Saturday.
Michigan lost to another No. 13 seed, Ohio, in last year’s tournament. The Wolverines looked vulnerable again at halftime of this one. They led 30-26, but Burke hadn’t made a shot from the field.
On this night, though, he had plenty of help. Robinson, the son of the former Purdue star with the same name, scored Michigan’s first 11 points of the second half, including three 3-pointers.
Robinson put the Wolverines up 41-30 with a 3. He finished 8 of 9 from the field.
“My confidence has always been there, but tonight the ball just felt right coming out of my hand,” Robinson said. “It hasn’t felt like that for a while, but when I started hitting shots, my teammates went right back to me. That’s the way this team plays. Even when Trey isn’t hitting shots, he’s making passes and getting us open shots.”
Hardaway, another Michigan player with a familiar name, went 8 of 13 and made five 3-pointers.
With 11:01 to play, Burke fell hard while competing for a defensive rebound. He immediately grabbed his head, although it wasn’t yet clear if the main point of impact was his head, his back or his left arm.
“That was a scary moment for us. One thing I know — the kid is tough as nails,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “That was not a good feeling, but I saw him sort of move quickly right away, felt he was going to be fine, then I went about my business of arguing with the officials. But apparently it was our own player that knocked him off balance.”
Burke was able to walk off the court but went down the tunnel toward the locker room. He returned to the game with 9:23 to go. Burke finished with seven assists, which helped offset his poor shooting.
“I knew that my shot wasn’t falling, and I just tried to contribute in different ways, and we had different hot hands tonight,” Burke said.
McGary, a freshman making only his third start of the season, gave the Wolverines some added muscle inside. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound McGary added an exclamation mark late in the game when he stepped in front of a pass by Wolters, stole the ball and went all the way for a dunk to make it 65-52.
Brayden Carlson had 20 points for the Jackrabbits, but only four after halftime.
Burke is a national player of the year candidate, and Wolters is one of the country’s top scorers, but the much-anticipated matchup of talented point guards never really lived up to the hype.
Burke scored only two points in the first half, and Wolters had only four.
“It was just difficult to get in the lane, and they did a good job on pick-and-rolls just kind of staying with me and trapping me a little bit,” Wolters said. “Brayden really got us going first half. He was our only source of offense.”
Carlson kept the Jackrabbits in the game, and Hardaway picked up the slack for the Wolverines with 12 first-half points, all on 3-pointers.
South Dakota State used only six players, with four going 40 minutes.
Michigan was ranked No. 1 in the country earlier this season but leveled off down the stretch in the rugged Big Ten. The Wolverines are playing in their home state in the NCAA tournament for the first time.