The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they lost both of them. On Tuesday (02/02/2016), they lost to (#22) Indiana 80-67, then on Saturday (02/06/2016), they lost to (#10) Michigan State 89-73. Both games were in the “friendly” confines of Crisler Arena. The two losses lower Michigan’s record to 17-7 (7-4 in the Big Ten).
These were two of the worst games Michigan has played in a while, and they were very similar. In both games, Michigan got behind early, and never got close in the last 30 minutes. In both games, the other guys were on fire, and Michigan’s defense didn’t come close to stopping them. They were both good old-fashioned butt kickings.
The Indiana game featured one of the most impressive runs I have ever seen in major college basketball. With 13:48 left in the 1st half, UM was up on Indiana 17-6. With 9:05 left, UM still led 24-20. At halftime, it was 45-24, Indiana. Yup, a 25-0 run over the last 9:05. But that wasn’t the end of the run. IU added 3 more points to make it a 28-0 run, before Michigan finally scored with 18:36 left in the game. That’s 10 minutes and 29 seconds between baskets. Amazing. During that run, Michigan missed dunks, layups, short jumpers, long jumpers, 3-pointers, and free throws. Nothing was going in. It was disgusting.
Michigan State had a few demoralizing runs in their game, but nothing like 28-0. Michigan was cold in both games, and when they aren’t hitting their 3-pointers, they stand little chance, especially against Top-25 teams.
After managing to go 7-2 in the first half of the Big Ten season, Michigan fell flat in the first two games of the second half of the season. They have played 10 games now without their best player, Caris LeVert, who missed two more games this week with a left ankle injury. He is still listed as “day to day”.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? We learned that they don’t stand much chance when their 3-pointers aren’t falling, but we already knew that.
The stats for the IU game are depressing. Michigan shot very poorly overall (27-for-62 = 43.5%), they shot 3-pointers very poorly (7-for-23 = 30.4%), and they shot free throws very poorly (6-for-11 = 54.5%). They got clobbered on the boards (44-30), but they did win the all-important turnover battle (10-18). Yippee!
The stats for the MSU game are about as bad. Once again, UM shot very poorly overall (26-for-58 = 44.8%), they shot 3-pointers extremely poorly (8-for-28 = 28.6%), but they did shoot free throws well (13-for-16 = 81.3%). Once again, they got crushed on the boards (35-20), but they dominated in the turnover battle (9-19). Another moral victory!
With LeVert still unavailable, Coach Beilein went with his new regular starting lineup: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (MAAR), Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, and Derrick Walton Jr. Only one of the starters hit double figures in both games: Irvin, with 16 points vs. IU and 19 points vs. MSU. Robinson and Walton were the only other starters to hit double figures in one game. Robinson had 14 and 2 points, and Walton had 7 and 11 points. That’s right, Robinson got held to 2 points, on 1-for-5 shooting, vs. MSU. Ugh. The other two starters didn’t help much. MAAR had 7 and 6 points, and Donnal had 2 and 4.
The bench contributed more points than usual this week. Kameron Chatman had 2 and 5, Andrew Dakich had 2 and 3, Aubrey Dawkins had 5 and 14, Ricky Doyle had 6 and 4, and DJ Wilson had 6 and 5. Moritz Wagner didn’t play in the IU game, and failed to score in the MSU game. Why the increased bench scoring? More “garbage time” in two blowout losses.
This week, Michigan plays two more Big Ten games. On Wednesday (02/10/2016, 9:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Minnesota, then on Saturday (02/13/2016, 2:00 p.m., ESPN), they play (#18) Purdue, in Crisler Arena.
Michigan has already played Minnesota once, an unimpressive 74-69 win in Ann Arbor on 01/20/2016. Since then, Minnesota has gone on to lose 4 more games. They are now 6-17 (0-11 in the Big Ten). Even though Michigan is coming off two dismal home losses, and playing Minnesota on their home floor (“The Barn”), I still expect Michigan to win this game.
Purdue is another matter. Michigan has already played them as well, and they got thumped 87-70 in West Lafayette on 01/07/2016. Purdue is big and tall, athletic, and ranked. UM has not done very well against ranked teams recently. It should be another tough game, and could look a lot like the IU and MSU games.
Tune by on Wednesday, and come on down to Crisler on Saturday, then check back next week to see what happened, and why.