The (#10) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won one and lost one. On Wednesday (02/05/2014), they beat Nebraska 79-50 in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (02/08/2014), they lost to (#17) Iowa 85-67 in Iowa City. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 17-6 (9-2 in the Big Ten). Michigan is still tied for 1st place in the Big Ten.
Both games were butt whippings, with the home team winning both of them. It’s tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, but Nebraska made it much too easy for Michigan, and Michigan made it much too easy for Iowa. Nebraska came into the game vs. Michigan on a high, having won 3 out of their last 4 games, including a win over then-#17 Ohio State in Lincoln. The first game between Michigan and Nebraska, in Lincoln on 01/09/2014, had been close and tense, with Michigan surviving 2 missed shots by Nebraska in the closing seconds to win by 1, 71-70.
The high didn’t last long. Michigan raced out to a fast start (8-0) in the first 2 minutes, Nebraska hung around (within 4 points, 16-12, with 11:49 to go in the 1st half), then Michigan just crushed them with a 29-3 run over the next 9 minutes to put the game out of reach before halftime. At that point, it was 45-15, and the rest of the game was academic. UM led 49-21 at halftime, and pushed their lead up to 41 points (75-34) with 10:34 to go, then cruised home for the easy win.
As good as UM looked vs. Nebraska, they looked that bad vs. Iowa. Open shots that have gone in most of the season clanked off. Silly turnovers. Lost “50-50” balls. It was a nightmare. Michigan did lead once (2-0), before Iowa got going. Iowa jumped out to an early lead (13-4) with 14:43 left in the 1st half, then pushed it up to a 16-point lead (27-11) with 9:17 left. Michigan fought back, and got within 7 points (36-29) with 2:39 left in the half, but that was as close as they got. Iowa pushed the lead back up to 14 points (43-29) at halftime, and got it as high as 27 points (72-45) with 7:02 left in the game. Michigan was never really in the game the whole 2nd half, and they didn’t put up much of a fight.
So, another road game, another listless loss. The Iowa game was just the first of four games that make up “The Gauntlet, Part 2”. If they can win the next 3, they’ll be in good shape to win the Big Ten title, but they can’t afford to play any more games like they did at Iowa. They still control their own destiny with respect to the Big Ten title.
The stats look like you’d expect them to look: fine vs. Nebraska, lousy vs. Iowa. Michigan shot pretty well overall vs. Nebraska (26-for-52 = 50.0%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (13-for-31 = 41.9%), and they shot free-throws perfectly (14-for-14 = 100.0%). They won the rebounding battle handily (35-26), but they lost the turnover battle (13-11).
Against Iowa, Michigan shot poorly overall (22-for-52 = 42.3%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (9-for-25 = 36.0%), and they shot free-throws adequately (14-for-18 = 77.8%). They lost the rebounding battle badly (38-29), and they lost the turnover battle badly (12-7). It was a bad game.
Individually, 2 Michigan players hit double figures in both games this week:
- Zak Irvin – 16 points vs. Nebraska, and 19 points vs. Iowa. Zak is finally starting to show some consistency, and provide some much-needed bench scoring.
- Caris LeVert – 16 and 22 points. Caris also led the team in rebounding (7) and had 5 assists vs. Nebraska.
2 players hit double figures in one game this week:
- Glenn Robinson III – 23 and 2 points. That’s not a typo. GR3 had a brilliant game vs. Nebraska, tying his career-high, then he went 1-for-7 against Iowa.
- Nik Stauskas – 9 and 10 points. Nik had a quiet week, scoring-wise. He did have 8 assists vs. Nebraska.
4 players scored in at least one game, but didn’t hit double figures:
- Spike Albrecht – 0 and 2 points.
- Max Bielfeldt – 0 and 3 points. Max hit another 3-pointer vs. Iowa.
- Jon Horford – 7 and 4 points.
- Derrick Walton Jr. – 8 and 5 points.
Brad Anlauf, Andrew Dakich, Sean Lonergan, and Jordan Morgan all played in at least one game, but failed to score. Anlauf, Dakich, and Lonergan are all practice players, so it’s not too surprising that they failed to score, but Morgan is the starting center, and he played a total of 35 minutes.
Michigan plays two games this week. On Tuesday (02/11/2014, 98:00 p.m., ESPN) they play at Ohio State, then on Sunday (02/16/2014, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS) they play Wisconsin in Crisler Arena. These are both tough games, and Michigan will have to get back to their “A” game to win either of them. Columbus is another tough place to win, and this is Michigan’s only game against OSU this season, but they have already beaten Wisconsin in Madison, so they stand a good chance against them in Ann Arbor.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.