From the tip, this one was going to be a battle. 2007 showed a game plan early, drawing Jason Love (10/7/0) to the perimeter in ball screen action and trying to let Drew Lavender (6/2/4) find mismatches. They opened the game with Lavender going and-one on this matchup, getting Love leaning and then hitting a jumper through the contact. 2009 also wanted to focus on Love, and he scored 4 of the team's first 6 points, first drawing a foul to score a pair from the line, then going right at Justin Cage (8/5/2) on the post. Bully ball was in full effect.
2007 had its share of tough guys on the court too, though, and they cracked off a 9-2 run featuring 5 from Justin Doellman (12/6/2) and a bucket each from Cage and Josh Duncan (9/6/0) to take momentum back midway through the first half. BJ Raymond (11/3/1) steadied 2009's nerves with a basket, but 2007 was still holding 2009 at arm's length as the half wore down.
Cue the Pride of Frankenmuth, MI. No, not Bronner's Christmas Wonderland; Brad Redford.
Quiet for most of the first half, Redford (13/0/1) banged home a three to tie the game at 15. The teams exchanged buckets for a couple of minutes, then Redford buried another one to put 2009 up by three. With the hot shooting contagious, BJ Raymond knocked a three the next time down to push the lead out to six. 2007 answered with 5 quick ones from Adrion Graves (8/1/0), but a pair of FT from CJ Anderson (11/3/2) gave 2009 a one-point advantage at the half.
That modest 2-0 run to end the half was the jumping-off point for a spectacular run that buried the game. Tu Holloway (3/2/9) opened the scoring with his only bucket of the game, a deep three assisted by CJ Anderson. Big Kenny (6/5/0) scored off a dime from the same source, and 2009 was off and running. Brad Redford drilled a three and then split a pair of free throws. Big Kenny scored again, BJ Raymond hit a jumper, and Derrick Brown (12/4/2) got to the line for a pair.
Meanwhile, the 2009 defense was locking down. After Josh Duncan hit a three with 52 seconds to go in the first half, 2009 held 2007 without a bucket for 6:38, holding them to 0-6/0-2/2-2 shooting and forcing 5 turnovers. During that stretch, 2009 went on a 17-2 run to turn the game from a nail-biter to an exercise in not throwing away an advantage.
Stanley Burrell did his best to change the tide, hitting back-to-back threes to briefly cut the lead to 10. 2009 held fast, though as Tu assisted buckets by Dante Jackson (6/6/3) and Jamel McLean (2/1/1) to push the lead back out to a comfortable distance. 2007 couldn't muster another answer, and by the time Brad Redford's 4th three of the night fell, 2009 had an insurmountable 19-point advantage with 7 and change left to run off the clock.
2009 had an incredible showing on both ends of the floor. They held a 2007 team that finished 12th in offensive efficiency that year to .386/.346/.600 shooting and forced 13 turnovers. On the offensive end, they shot .600/.600/.737 and assisted on 21 of their 30 made buckets. Brad Redford led all scorers with 13 and was 4-4 from beyond the arc. 2009 advances to take on the #3 seed 2018 team in the Elite Eight.