Michigan rolls Florida en route to Atlanta
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Michigan rolls Florida en route to Atlanta

It was flawless on-court chemistry and several hot hands that carried the South Region's fourth-seeded Michigan Wolverines over, around and through No. 3 Florida Sunday, 79-59, to advance to the program's fifth Final Four. The 20-point margin of victory is the largest in a Regional Final since Duke knocked Temple by 21 in '99.

The hottest of the hands were those of freshman Nik Stauskas, who sunk a career-best 6-of-6 from three-point range (five in the first 16 minutes of the game) while matching his career high of 22 total points, becoming the first player in an NCAA Regional to finish a game 6-of-6 from arc.

Three players had gone 5-for-5, the last being Kentucky's Jamal Mashburn v. Wake Forest in 1993.

"During warm-ups, I felt it right away," said Stauskas. "I felt it was going to be one of those days. I told Trey, 'If I'm open in the corner, I'm going to knock it down and he found me today."

"Florida is a great team, but we played our game today. When we play our game, we're a real tough team to stop."

Michigan broke open the game with a 13-0 run, ultimately scoring 47 first-half points against a Florida defense that entered the game allowing 53.7 points per game.

The Wolverines reached 54 points just 4:42 into the second half.

In large part to this was National Player of the Year Trey Burke, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the South Region after averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds and 8.5 assists in the last two wins.

"It means a lot," Burke said following. "We know that we're all capable of stepping up. At the beginning of the year, everybody was seeing how good everybody is and how everybody can contribute on the offensive end. During the middle of the year, we weren't as defensive as a team, but we continued to learn and grow and it made a difference in this tournament."

"We felt like we came out against Kansas pretty sluggish. And we felt today the key was to come out and throw the first punch… Nik played one of his best games all season. We noticed that he was hot early on in the first half. We tried to continue to find ways to find him when he was open."

Another big target (literally and figuratively) was the 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman Mitch McGary, whose three immediate buckets fueled the game-opening momentum. McGary just missed a double-double Sunday, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while swiping a career-best five steals.

In the two regional wins, McGary averaged 18 points and 12.5 rebounds.

"We knew what Mitch was capable of doing, just by watching him all year in practice," noted Burke. "Mitch has learned a lot. And he's the type of guy that brings a lot of energy to our team. But not only the energy part, he runs the floor well. He has a certain feel for the game and a touch around the rim that a lot of big men don't have… Our job is just to hit him when he's open. He does a good job of getting second opportunities on the offensive end. He is just everywhere, offense and defense. It makes teams focus on him a lot and that pretty much opens it up for everybody else."

Michigan reaches the Final Four for the first time since the "Fab Five" in 1993.

Junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. wasn't even born yet.

"It means the world, to be making it back," he said. "Twenty years has passed and we haven't been on the stage yet. We just want to make sure we do a great job of coming out and playing very, very hard, every possession, every minute you're out there. It's a young team, but everybody buys on the Coach Beilein system."

"This team has faced a lot of adversity this year, and a lot of people doubted us to get to this point," Burke added. "A lot of people said we were too young, we weren't tough enough. I defintely think that's why we played with a chip on our shoulder over the last couple of weeks."

"It feels great to be going to Atlanta with a team like this. Like I said, we fought back through adversity and we're here now. We still have unfinished business, though. We have to continue to take each game by each game."

Head Coach John Beilein and the Wolverines square off with Jim Boeheim and the East Region's fourth-seeded Syracuse Saturday at the Georgia Dome. Tip-off TBA.

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