- Jason King
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michigan is headed to the Final Four for the first time in nearly 20 years following Sunday's 79-59 annihilation of Florida in the Elite Eight at Cowboys Stadium.
Freshman Nik Stauskas scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to spark the Wolverines, the No. 4 seed in the South Region. Trey Burke added 15 points and seven assists. Will Yeguete and Kenny Boynton led Florida with 13 points each.
Michigan hardly looked fatigued from Friday's 87-85 overtime win against No. 1 seed Kansas in the Sweet 16. John Beilein's squad rallied from a 14-point deficit to win that game, but it certainly didn't need any second-half heroics to get by the Gators.
The Wolverines led by as many as 24 points before taking a 47-30 lead into intermission. Stauskas made all six of his field goal attempts in the opening stanza. Five of them were from 3-point range. It'd be inaccurate to say that Michigan caught Florida on an off night or that it built its big lead mainly because its opponent played poorly.
The Gators were simply out-classed in terms of talent.
By losing, No. 3 seed Florida became the first team in NCAA tournament history to fall in the Elite Eight three consecutive seasons. Michigan, meanwhile, advances to play Syracuse in the national semifinals Saturday in Atlanta.
Turning point: Florida, which trailed by scores of 23-5 and 41-17 in the opening half, put a bit of a scare into Michigan after intermission. A jump shot by Boynton shaved the Wolverines' lead to 50-38, but Michigan was quick to respond with a layup from Mitch McGary. Seconds after McGary's basket, Spike Albrecht stole Florida's inbounds pass and scored on a hanging layup to make it 54-38. It was never a game after that.
Key player: Stauskas was the main reason Michigan was able to separate itself from Florida in the first half. But freshman forward McGary was the player who set the tone early by scoring eight of his team's first 11 points in game-opening 11-0 run. McGary finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Burke had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
Key stat: Michigan went 10-of-19 from 3-point range.