Nothing But ‘Net – Week #10 – 01/03/2022 – Unhappy New Year

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this past week, and they lost it.  On Thursday (12/30/2021), they lost at Central Florida (UCF) 85-71.  The loss lowers Michigan’s record to 7-5 (1-1 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

Between the UCF basketball game and the Orange Bowl football game, in was a lousy week in Florida for Michigan athletics.

Michigan should have won the UCF game, but once the momentum started swinging the wrong way, it was over.  Michigan led for all but the first few seconds of the 1st half, with a 3-5 point lead.  They led by 4 points (35-31) at halftime, and they quickly stretched that lead to 12 points (44-32) with 17:34 left in the game.  The lead was still 12 points (49-37) with 16:01 to go, when the roof fell in.  UCF went on a dizzying 13-0 run in less than 3 minutes, and led 50-49 at the 13:12 mark.  In that stretch, UCF made back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a dunk-steal-dunk.  UM was completely frazzled, their confidence was shot, and the momentum was lost.  They got the lead back one last time, 51-50, and that was it.  UCF pulled ahead, and never trailed again.  UM got as close as 2 points (64-62) with 7:26 left, but UCF pushed their lead up to 10 points, and never looked back.  It was a humiliating loss to a non-Power 5 team, even if it was on the road.

Stats

The game stats are weird.  Michigan shot better from 3-point range (11-for-27 = 40.7%) than overall (25-for-63 = 39.7%), and they shot free throws pretty well (10-for-13 = 76.9%).  They won the rebounding battle (37-32), but lost the turnover battle (9-6).  The difference was that UCF was on fire from 3-point range: 12-for-20 (60.0%), including 8-for-8 in the 2nd half.  That flurry of three 3-pointers in 67 seconds in the 2nd half just broke Michigan’s will.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Moussa Diabate, Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan, and DeVante’ Jones.

Who Looked Good?

4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures, led by Brooks (18), Jones (17), Diabate (13), and Dickinson (12).  Jones in particular did his part, shooting 6-for-10 overall and 4-for-5 from deep.  Dickinson almost had another double-double with 9 rebounds.

Kobe Bufkin also had a good game, with 8 points on 2-for-4 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range).

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Houstan had a terrible game, scoring 1 point.  He shot 0-for-7 from the floor (0-for-4 from deep) in 24 minutes of “action”.

Frankie Collins had a lousy game, with 0 points in 6 minutes.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had a lousy game, with 0 points in 9 minutes.

Terrance Williams II had a lousy game, with 2 points in 14 minutes.

Who Else Played?

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, Adrien Nuñez, and Will Tschetter are the scholarship players who didn’t play.

Ian Burns, Jaron Faulds, and Brandon Wade are the scout team players who didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

Losing this game is a disaster.  At this point, Michigan looks like they will finish below 0.500 for the season, and miss out on the NCAA Tournament.  They may get their act together, but they don’t have much margin for error left.

If you’re following Michigan basketball for the wins, this isn’t the season for you.  If you’re following them to see them play, they might still surprise you with some unexpected wins, but be ready for a lot more dreary losses.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, resuming the Big Ten schedule.  On Tuesday (01/04/2022, 7:00 p.m., BTN) they play at Rutgers, then on Saturday (01/08/2022, 2:30 p.m., FOX) they play (#10) Michigan State in Crisler Arena.

Rutgers is currently 7-5 (1-1 in Big Ten), the same record as Michigan.  They have solid wins over Clemson (ACC/Big Ten Challenge) and (#1) Purdue.  They have unimpressive losses to DePaul, Lafayette, and Massachusetts. They have a couple noteworthy players (Geo Baker and Ron Harper, Jr.) and some height (one 6’10” player, and two 6’11” players).  This will be a tough game, especially on the road.  Michigan has never lost to Rutgers, but this could be the season.

MSU is currently 12-2 (3-0 in Big Ten).  Their only impressive win is over Louisville (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), and their 2 losses are against (#3) Kansas and (#6) Baylor.  They have several noteworthy players (Max Christie, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, and Gabe Brown), and they have some height (a 7-footer at center).  Michigan will probably get blown out in this one, but they have the talent to hang around and maybe pull off a miracle, they just need to play one of their rare “A” games.

An important note: UM is now requiring proof-of-vaccination to attend indoor athletic events, as of 01/01/2022.  That should make the home basketball game on Saturday interesting.

Check back next week to find out what happened and why.

Go Blue!