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March 31, 2013

Instant Recap: Michigan Final Four Bound

Michigan had its foot on the pedal from the get-go, jumping out to a 13-0 lead and expanding the lead to 23-5 on sophomore Nik Stauskas' second triple from the corner. Stauskas turned to the crowd with a "long day for them if they leave me that open" look, and he never let up, leading U-M to a 79-59 win and the Final Four.

The Michigan crowd came to life early when the Wolverines scored a quick seven points, forcing an early timeout from the Florida bench. There were behind-the-back passes for easy dunks, triples in transition by Stauskas and sophomore Trey Burke's near-superhuman plays. Freshman big man Mitch McGary, however, was the catalyst again, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds before the first media timeout.

McGary also dominated on the defensive end, blocking two shots. Gators big man Patric Young went to the bench with two quick fouls, allowing U-M to expand the lead.

The Wolverines went cold for a stretch in the middle of the first half. Freshman Spike Albrecht and junior Tim Hardaway, Jr. both missed open jump shots against Florida's zone, and the Gators were still hanging around at 8:21, down 25-11.

Hardaway, Jr., particularly, couldn't find the range. He was 0-for-6 before he finally scored, but it was a big one. He countered two Florida buckets inside with a triple from the corner to make it 33-15. A McGary steal led to a Burke breakout and an alley-oop to freshman Glenn Robinson III that pushed the lead to 20, and U-M was off and running once again.

Stauskas hit another triple from the corner and got the look back on his face - the heat check was also good on the next trip, making him 6-of-6 from the floor, 5-of-5 from three-point range. The Wolverines led 41-17 at 3:57 and the primarily pro-Michigan crowd was on its feet.

Beilein substituted liberally to keep his starters fresh. Big man Jon Horford had a tip-in, but the Wolverines were much better with McGary on the floor.

Florida ripped off six straight to cut into the lead before Burke pushed it back to 20 with a short jump shot. The half ended sloppily for the Wolverines, though. Robinson III missed a finish, Stauskas turned it over and the Gators continued to cut into the lead, getting it down to 13.

Stauskas ended the half by making two of three free throws after getting fouled to give U-M a 47-30 lead at the break. He led Michigan with 19 points, Burke added 11 and McGary notched eight points and six rebounds.

Second Half

Robinson missed a triple from the top, failing to follow his shot, to start the half. And Florida countered on the other end with a two -- which Michigan answered feebly with a turnover. Not the start the Wolverines wanted, especially after another Burke turnover and Gators finish inside at the other end that cut it to 47-34. They made it 47-36 after another turnover before Stauskas racked up his sixth-straight three, pushing the lead to 50-36 at 16:00. He finished with a career-high 22 points.

Beilein took Burke aside following a Florida timeout and lectured him after his poor four-minute stretch to open the half.

The Wolverines got momentum back with a McGary drive and finish, followed by a steal of the inbounds pass by freshman Spike Albrecht and finish of his own. It was 54-38 at 14:50. Florida, though, continued to chip away inside and take advantage of poor Michigan shots. They cut it back to 14 when Hardaway rushed a few shots early in the clock.

Nothing was working for U-M at that point, including the transition game, but then Burke got going, once again. He made two free throws after taking it to the rim in transition and, after a steal, set up Hardaway on a 2-on-1 breakaway for a slam that pushed it back to 62-44 at 10:17. Horford finished in transition to push it back to 64-44 with 10 to go, and U-M fans started making their Final Four plans a bit prematurely.

Hardaway continued to struggle with his jumper and Burke, dog tired, started slowing things down in transition. They got the momentum back, though, on a one-hand alley-oop finish from Robinson III on a halfcourt pass from Burke. It was 67-48 at 6:16 when McGary picked up his fourth foul, sending him to the bench.

U-M continued to be careless with the ball on occasion, but Albrecht came up big again. His steal and finish made it 71-51 at 5:00 - coming after another steal in which he dove for a loose ball and called timeout. His minutes were crucial.

Florida didn't press, and Michigan all but ended when Albrecht nailed a triple at 4:25 to make it 74-53.

The bench emptied at 1:42 and U-M up 76-54, and Matt Vogrich added an exclamation point with a three-pointer in transition with 1:05 remaining.

Stauskas led U-M with his 22 points, making all six of his triples. Burke, playing through a virus, added 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, McGary 11 points and nine rebounds.


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