ARLINGTON, Texas — Another fabulous group of young players has Michigan headed back to the Final Four.
Led by Big Ten player of the year Trey Burke and sharp-shooting guard Nik Stauskas, one of three freshman starters, the Wolverines dominated Florida right from tipoff, scoring the game’s first 13 points and routing the Gators, 79-59, in the South Regional final Sunday.
‘‘A lot of guys said we were really young and that we couldn’t get here,’’ said Burke, a sophomore and the region’s most outstanding player. ‘‘We’re here now and we still have unfinished business.’’
The last time Michigan made it this far was the Fab Five era of the early 1990s, what until now had been considered the program’s glory years. Might be time to start rethinking that.
Once they got ahead Sunday, the Wolverines (30-7) maintained a double-digit against the SEC regular-season champion Gators (29-8), who lost in a regional final for the third straight year.
‘‘We haven’t gotten off to the greatest of starts of late. That was a terrific start,’’ Michigan coach John Beilein said. ‘‘Just hanging in there with our defense allowed us to keep that separation.’’
Stauskas scored 22 points while making all six of his 3-pointers and Burke scored 15. Mitch McGary, a 6-foot-10-inch freshman, had 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Wolverines are headed to Atlanta to play Syracuse (30-9) in a national semifinal game Saturday.
Michigan hadn’t reached the Final Four since consecutive national championship game appearances in 1992 and 1993, the freshman and sophomore seasons of the Fab Five — Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King.
With four wins in this NCAA tourney, the Wolverines already have more tournament victories than their total from the end of the Fab Five era to this season. They had one win in 1998, and then didn’t even make the field again until 2009.
Despite being the only team to make regional finals each of the last three seasons, the Gators haven’t been to the Final Four since winning consecutive national titles in 2006 and 2007.
Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy, the four-year seniors who came in not long after those titles, will leave without one of their own. They were part of the only Gators class to win consecutive outright SEC regular-season championships, but came up short in the biggest games.
Boynton and Will Yeguete had 13 points each for the Gators.
After McGary started the scoring with a layup, Stauskas made a behind-the-back pass to McGary for a slam before making his first 3-pointer less than a half-minute after that. Burke passed to McGary for a layup before driving for one of his own. McGary’s jumper made it 13-0 only 3:05 into the game.
Stauskas, who was 2 of 12 from 3-point range the first three games of this NCAA tourney, couldn’t miss against the Gators. He put the Wolverines up by 24 points with 4:08 left in the first half after two consecutive threes from the left corner in a span of 27 seconds.