By RICK BROWN
Ann Arbor, Mich. — The first half of Sunday’s Iowa-Michigan men’s basketball game was a spirited tug-of-war. There were 21 lead changes and four ties before the Wolverines went to the locker room with a 35-32 lead.
Less than 11 minutes into the second half, Michigan had a 21-point lead.
“That’s been a problem for us all year long,” Iowa’s Matt Gatens said after an 87-73 loss to Michigan on Sunday at Crisler Arena. “There were 10 minutes in this game where it all went to mush.”
The Wolverines, 13-9 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten Conference, scored on 14 of their first 17 possessions of the second half to take a 69-48 lead with 9:12 to play.
Of those 17 possessions, two ended in turnovers. The other was a missed 3-pointer by Zach Novak.
Michigan made 14-of-17 shots in that spurt, including 5-of-6 3-point attempts. Two other misses resulted in offensive rebounds and second-chance baskets. The Wolverines shot 73.1 percent (19-of-26) in the second half and 58.9 percent for the game.
“We started the game well,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, who got a career-high 25 points from freshman Melsahn Basabe. “But the game is 40 minutes long. That’s where we struggle.”
Michigan’s Darius Morris recorded the school’s third triple-double with 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, joining Manny Harris (2009) and Gary Grant (1987).
“First of all, Morris is a handful,” McCaffery said after his team fell to 8-13 overall and 1-8 in the Big Ten. “You talk about what we didn’t do, but you’ve got to give Michigan credit for what they did do. It wasn’t just him, but it starts with him.”
The Wolverines made 14-of-28 3-pointers, matching Northwestern’s accuracy from that distance in a 90-71 win over the Hawkeyes on Jan. 12 in Iowa City.
Tim Hardaway made 5-of-10 3-pointers on Sunday. Fellow freshman Evan Smotrycz, who picked Michigan over McCaffery and Siena, made 4-of-5 and scored 14 points.
A third freshman starter, Jordan Morgan, added 17 points. All five Michigan starters scored in double figures.
“That’s what you’re always striving for,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “That’s the way you want your team to play.”
Basabe added a team-high eight rebounds, blocked two shots and had no turnovers in 32 minutes. He made 9-of-11 shots from the field.
“We didn’t get him the ball enough,” McCaffery said.
Basabe didn’t complain about the number of shots he got.
“I just try to be efficient with the shots I do get,” Basabe said.
Another freshman, Devyn Marble, came off the bench to score 12 points. Gatens and Bryce Cartwright added 11 points each. Cartwright also had a career-best nine assists and no turnovers.
But offense wasn’t the problem. Defense, especially on the perimeter, was.
“Obviously it’s something that’s problematic for us,” McCaffery said.
Cartwright sensed that Michigan’s confidence grew with each made basket the second half.
“It’s an empty feeling,” Cartwright said. “You feel like you put in all that hard work, and it comes up short.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball