SMICIA 7,FLORIDA 59
to the Final Four
for the first time
By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
ARLINGTON, Texas - For
the first time in 20 years, the
Michigan men's basketball team
is headed to the Final Four.
Right out of the gates, the
Wolverines unleashed an offen-
sive onslaught on Florida, the
nation's No. 2 defensive team.
Michigan took the game's open-
ing tip and never looked back,
The victory sends the Wolver-
ines to Atlanta, where they'll play
Syracuse on Saturday for a chance
to appear in the title game. It's
Michigan's first Final Four since
1993, but that run, as well as a
Final Four appearance in 1992,
have been wiped from the record
books. The program's last official
Final Four was the 1989 National
Michigan sealed the win with
its five seniors on the floor to the
chorus of "It's greatto be a Mich-
igan Wolverine" chants through-
out Cowboys Stadium.
"That was the highlight of
the day for me," said redshirt
sophomore forward Jon Horford.
"They deserved it. For them to
get in there and get an opportu-
nity, it was beautiful."
Senior guard Josh Bartelstein
was the first Wolverine to climb
the ladder and snip off a piece of
the nets, as Michigan coach John
Beilein looked on. It's the coach's
first Final Four in his 34 years
"I didn't know how to act,
actually," Beilein said. "I just was
silent and in awe of trying to take
Afterwards, in the locker
room, Beilein received the first
Gatorade shower of his career.
The Wolverines never trailed
and led by as many as 24 points
in the first half, entering halftime
with a 17-point lead. The eventu-
al 20-point victory was the larg-
est margin in an Elite Eight game
since 1999 until Louisville sur-
passed that margin in the second
Michigan scored the game's
first 13 points, opening the con-
test on a 23-5 run. Freshman
guard Nik Stauskas broke out of
a recent 3-point shooting slump
in spectacular fashion, draining
his first seven shots including six
from long range.
Stauskas said that he knew
he'd have a big shooting night
after his first shot in pregame
warm-ups went down.
"I was due for one of these
games - it's been a while," he
said. "My teammates did a real
good job of finding me when I
was open. My shot felt good, so I
was just letting them fly."
Each of Stauskas's first four
3-pointers were from the left
corner, where the freshman pri-
marily operates in the offense.
Florida seemingly had no answer
for the spacing Michigan imple-
mented, as it repeatedly left
"Nik didn't have to do any-
thing, he was just standing in the
corner and we were finding him,"
said junior guard Tim Hardaway
Jr. "Our big men did a great job
of just rolling to the basket and
collapsing defense, and us guards
were just finding him on half
court and on fast breaks. So it
was easy for him."
Stauskas led all scorers with
19 first-half points, includ-
ing back-to-back triples with
five minutes left in the half to
extend the Wolverines' lead to
41-17. Stauskas finished with 22
points, tying his career high on
Meanwhile, Florida (14-4
SEC, 29-8 overall) struggled to
connect on nearly anything, as
Michigan played some of its best
defensive ball of the year. The
Wolverines held the Gators to a
2-for-10 clip from 3-point range,
while forcing 15 turnovers.
Michigan, on the other hand,
had one of its most efficient
offensive nights of the year. The
Wolverines shot 52.6 percent
from long range, and outscored
Florida, 21-4, in transition.
Michigan (12-6 Big Ten, 30-7
overall) came out of the locker
room cold, allowing the Gators to
first official timeout, but the Wol-
verines never flinched. Fresh-
man forward Glenn Robinson
III jammed home a monstrous
dunk out of the break, and fresh-
man point guard Spike Albrecht
stole the ensuing inbound pass
and finished an acrobatic layup.
Florida couldn't muster enough
offense to ever cut the deficit to
less than 12 thereafter.
Albrecht said he's been making
plays like that since high school.
"Sometimes the inbounder
gets a little lackadaisical with
it and they just kind of throw it
out," Albrecht said. "I saw that he
wasn't really looking, so I kind of
faked liked I was going back on
defense and then I just jumped it.
"That was kind of arisk-reward
play. If I missed it, Coach Beilein
would probably have been pretty
upset with me, so I'm just happy it
went our way."
Sophomore point guard Trey
Burke, who was named the South
Region's Most Outstanding Play-
er, finished with 15 points, eight
rebounds and seven assists, while
turning the ball over only once.
Stauskas and McGary, who reg-
istered 11 points and nine boards,
joined Burke on the region's All-
The Wolverines will take on a
fellow No. 4 seed in the Orange,
renewing a coaching rivalry
between Beilein and Syracuse
coach Jim Boeheim that dates
back to Beilein's days in the Big
East. But preparation for that,
Beilein said, is for another time.
"I know we've got our work
cut out for us, but I'm not going
to worry about that until tomor-
row or maybe the next day,"
TOP: The Michigan men's basketball team celebrates its victory Sunday and ascension to the NCAA Final Four. (Photo:
TODD NEEDLE/Daily, Illustration: Daily Design Staff)
BOTTOM: Teammates mob sophomore point guard Trey Burke Friday at Cowboys Stadium. (TODD NEEDLE/Daily)
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