March 28, 1997 in Sports

Michigan’s Tractor Plows Fsu Under

Associated Press


Labeled as enigmatic and underachieving all season, the Michigan Wolverines now have a new tag - NIT champions.

Robert Traylor scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Thursday night as Michigan won its second NIT title with an 82-73 victory over Florida State.

The Wolverines (23-11) were denied a trip to the NCAAs this year after a five-game losing streak late in the regular season resulted in a sixth-place Big Ten finish.

But given a rebirth in the NIT, the Wolverines showed why they were ranked in the Top 10 to start the year and why they’ll be a team to reckon with next March.

“A lot of people have said that this team can’t win anything,” Michigan coach Steve Fisher said. “Now they can’t say that.”

The first basketball game between schools better known for football was fittingly dominated by the one player on the floor who looks like a defensive tackle.

Traylor, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound sophomore nicknamed “Tractor,” used his massive body to help Michigan control the boards and thwart a dramatic Florida State comeback in the second half.

Traylor, who had 33 points and 19 rebounds in Michigan’s two victories at Madison Square Garden, was named the tournament’s MVP.

“It’s a great honor when you look at the long list of names,” Traylor said. “But if I didn’t score a point or get a rebound, it wouldn’t matter because we won.”

Maceo Baston added 20 points for Michigan, which outrebounded Florida State 47-28.

“If they were in the NCAAs, they would have made the Elite Eight at least,” Florida State coach Pat Kennedy said. “I don’t think I’ve coached against a team in all my 17 years that has been so physically imposing as they are.”

Florida State (20-12) was led by James Collins’ 20 points.

Former FSU point guards Charlie Ward and Sam Cassell were among the 15,849 on hand.

Connecticut defeated Arkansas 74-64 in the consolation game.

Michigan 82, Florida State 73

Florida State (20-12) - Greer 5-8 2-2 15, Jackson 5-10 1-2 11, Luchman 1-2 3-4 5, Collins 6-14 5-7 20, K.Thompson 4-12 4-5 14, Louis 2-4 4-6 8, Hale 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 19-26 73.

Michigan (24-11) - Baston 6-10 8-13 20, Taylor 4-8 1-2 9, Traylor 11-22 4-6 26, Bullock 5-15 5-5 17, Conlon 1-2 0-0 3, Hughes 1-5 3-4 5, Ward 0-2 2-2 2, Vignier 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 23-32 82.

Halftime-Michigan 41, Florida State 31. 3-Point goals- Florida St. 8-20 (Greer 3-5, Collins 3-7, K.Thompson 2-7, Hale 0-1), Michigan 3-14 (Bullock 2-9, Conlon 1-2, Ward 0-1, Hughes 0-2). Fouled out-Greer. Rebounds-Florida St. 28 (K.Thompson 7), Michigan 47 (Traylor 13). Assists-Florida St. 14 (K.Thompson 6), Michigan 14 (Conlon 6). Total fouls-Florida St. 20, Michigan 21. A-15,849.

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