Michigan ran into a buzz saw in Iowa City and never recovered. The Wolverines came out flat and Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble didn’t.
Marble was just 5-of-18 from three-point range in his last five games, but he had his stroke going on Saturday afternoon.
Marble made three made 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game and Michigan was in an early hole. His fourth make extended Iowa’s lead to 11 points with 11 minutes to play. Then he hit his fifth, and then his sixth as time ran out in the first half, extending Iowa’s lead to 14 points at the break.
Marble finished the first half with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Michigan had just 29.
From there, the Hawkeyes were in cruise control and were able to expand their lead to 27 points midway through the second half. The final 18 point deficit was forgiving to the Wolverines, who finished with a 7-0 run in the final 75 seconds of the game.
Two-thirds of the way through a season that has seen plenty of disappointing defensive performances, this was Michigan’s worst. The Wolverines surrendered 1.34 points per possession and did nothing right on that end of the floor. In the first half Iowa killed Michigan with its three-point shooting (8-of-11) and when the threes stopped falling the Hawkeyes killed Michigan on the offensive glass. Iowa rebounded 43% of its missed shots and scored 11 second chance points.
Michigan’s transition defense struggled to pick people up, including in the secondary break, and its half court defense routinely got lost off the ball chasing Iowa’s shooters through screens. In the second half, Michigan forced a few more misses, but gave Iowa 18 free throw attempts. The Wolverine defense is now the third worst in the Big Ten on a per-possession basis and has to be Michigan’s No. 1 concern going forward.
Michigan’s usually reliable offense didn’t do its lackluster defense any favors. The Wolverines took a number of questionable shots early in the first half which allowed Iowa’s lead to snowball quickly. Michigan scored 1.06 points per trip, but was woefully ineffective for the first 20 minutes. The Wolverines only scored .95 points per possession in the first frame and were only able to count on two players for consistent production.
Once again, Michigan’s high ball screen game with Nik Stauskas was rendered ineffective. While Iowa used some of its smaller guards against Stauskas, this was a different approach than Indiana (who denied him the ball). Stauskas could catch the ball, but he couldn’t do anything with it. Iowa realized that taking Stauskas out of the game takes Morgan and Horford out of the game, so they blitzed every ball screen. The passes to Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford weren’t there, but Stauskas still tried to force them and was just never able to find a groove.
This was a bad loss for Michigan. Not because of the result – a loss at the No. 3 team in the standings is nothing to cry over – but because of how flat the Wolverines looked. You can’t win on the road in the Big Ten with an effort like that and for the second time in three games, Michigan just didn’t look sharp. The Wolverines don’t have any time to lick their wounds as they are back on the road at Ohio State on Tuesday to face a Buckeye team headed in the right direction that just won at Iowa.
- Caris LeVert: LeVert was Michigan’s only starter that played a good game offensively – finishing with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting – but he had several defensive breakdowns early which led to open threes for Marble. Offensively, LeVert continued to show off his diverse game. He was 2-of-6 form long range, 4-of-6 inside the arc and 8-of-11 at the free throw stripe. His defense was a major step back after a string of several solid defensive games.
- Zak Irvin: Irvin still has defensive issues to work out – who doesn’t after this game? – but he came off the bench shooting and just kept on firing. 19 points on 7-of-12 (4-6 3pt) shooting is a big performance for the freshman. He’s slowly starting to do a little more than catch-and-shoot, including a couple mid-range jumpers. His one driving attempt was swatted at the rim, but his offensive development is something to be excited about.
- Nik Stauskas: Stauskas had another disappointing performance and was just never able to get comfortable. The forced passes were frustrating (for a second game in a row) and he’s now just 5-of-15 from the floor with 10 turnovers in Michigan’s last three games. Things won’t get any easier at Ohio State, but the Wolverines need Stauskas to bounce back.
- Glenn Robinson III: Robinson opened the game with an alley-oop dunk. From that point on he was 0-of-6 from the floor with four turnovers in 25 minutes. Michigan needs more from Robinson, Robinson needs more from Robinson. John Beilein put it bluntly: “He had a bad game.” No one is going to argue that. This was eerily similar to the game at Indiana where he forced 17-foot jumpers early in the shot clock and tried to attack off the dribble, but was constantly stripped or blocked.
- Derrick Walton: Walton finished with 5 points on 1-of-4 shooting with 6 assists to 1 turnover in 18 minutes. The stat line looks decent, but I think Walton will learn a thing or two about controlling a game on the road after this game. Walton also struggled a bit attacking the basket given Iowa’s length around the rim.
- Jordan Morgan: Morgan was 0-of-2 from the floor including an ill-advised 15-foot jumper. Maybe he can hit that shot, but it isn’t the right shot early in the game on the road. Morgan didn’t grab a defensive rebound in 15 minutes and really struggled against Iowa’s size.
- Jon Horford: Horford played a little better, finishing with 4 points, 2 assists and 7 rebounds (4 defensive) in 20 minutes, but he also gave up inside position quite a few times. Both of Horford’s baskets came in the final four minutes with the game already decided.
- Spike Albrecht: Albrecht played a terrific game against Iowa at home, but finished with just two points and two assists in 20 minutes in Iowa City.
- Max Bielfeldt and Andrew Dakich: Both players made a few nice plays in garbage time. Bielfeldt knocked down a three and drew an offensive foul while Dakich had a nice drive and kick to Zak Irvin.