The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost both of them. On Thursday (02/05/2015), they lost to Iowa 72-54 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/08/2015), they lost at Indiana 70-67. The two losses drop Michigan’s record to 13-11 (6-6 in the Big Ten).
This team is just plain out of gas. Between the injuries (Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr.) and the illnesses, everyone who can play has been playing too many minutes, with too little support, and they’re just running on empty. They put up an impressive fight in a losing effort vs. Indiana, but they were embarrassingly docile in the home loss to Iowa. There was no fire in anyone’s eyes. They were whipped, and they knew it.
The Iowa game started OK, with UM going ahead 12-6 and 14-8. Iowa tightened things up, but UM still had a small lead (21-19) with 6:58 left in the 1st half, when the wheels fell off. Iowa went on a 12-0 to end the half, making the halftime score 31-21. The first 5:35 of the 2nd half were almost as bad, with Iowa going on a 13-5 run, and that was the game. That made the score 44-26 with 14:25 left, and Iowa managed to keep the lead in double digits for the rest of the game, except for one faint flickering hope when UM cut it to 9 points (52-43) with 8:07 to go. Iowa pushed the lead right back up to 14 points (57-43) in the next minute, and coasted home.
The IU game was a little more encouraging. Other than a brief 3-2 lead in the first 2 minutes of the game, IU led the whole way. Usually, the lead was 4-6 points, but a couple times IU pushed the lead up to 11 points (44-33 and 51-40), and it looked like they were going to turn it into another blowout. However, UM never let them get any farther ahead, and cut the lead back down to 4-6 points. In the final minute, they got the deficit down to 2 points (69-67), and got off a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer, but it missed, and that was the game.
The stats for the Iowa game are pretty sad. UM didn’t shoot very well overall (19-for-47 = 40.4%), and they shot pretty poorly from 3-point range (7-for-24 = 29.2%). They shot free throws very well (9-for-11 = 81.8%), but they got pounded on the boards (33-17), and they tied in the turnover battle (6-6). They played lousy defense, allowing Iowa to shoot 72% in the 2nd half. That’s what cost them the game.
The stats for the Indiana game are much more impressive. UM shot pretty well overall (23-for-46 = 50.0%), they shot 3-pointers very well (6-for-13 = 46.2%), and they shot free throws pretty well (15-for-20 = 75.0%). As usual, they lost the rebounding battle badly (32-21), but they did win the turnover battle (11-14). It was a close game at the end, and the stats show it.
Individually, only Spike Albrecht hit double figures in both games, with 10 in the Iowa game and 12 in the IU game. The other 4 starters each had one good game and one sub-par game: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 11 and 2 points, Aubrey Dawkins had 16 and 7, Ricky Doyle had 0 and 15, and Zak Irvin had 7 and 23.
The bench didn’t chip in very many points this week. Max Bielfeldt had 4 and 0, Kameron Chatman had 6 and 1, Andrew Dakich had 0 and 0 (but he did take 1 shot in each game), Mark Donnal returned from illness and had 0 and 7, and Sean Lonergan didn’t take a shot in the Iowa game, and didn’t play in the IU game. Austin Hatch didn’t play in either game.
This week, Michigan only plays one game. On Thursday (02/12/2015, 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN), they play at Illinois. They beat Illinois way back in December in their first Big Ten game of the season, 73-65 in overtime, but that was in Crisler Arena, with LeVert and Walton. It’s always hard to win on the road in the Big Ten, and even tougher when your team has so many injuries. It would be quite an upset if UM won this game.
Check back here next week to see what happened, and why.