Michigan took care of business at home on Wednesday night with a 74-59 win over Iowa.
Isaiah Livers returned to the starting lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury, but it was his backup who stole the show. Duncan Robinson made a season-high six 3-pointers in the victory and shot Iowa out of its matchup zone.
Robinson’s fellow senior, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, was just as efficient. The 6-foot-3 guard finished with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and handed out 7 assists in a comprehensive 37 minute performance.
It wasn’t the best that Michigan has played this year, but it was far from the worst and it was more than enough to breeze through a potential trap game against a struggling Iowa squad.
Michigan’s offense scored 1.10 points per possession in the win. That’s slightly above the Wolverines’ average output in conference play, but it was also Iowa’s best defensive performance in the last six games. The offense got the job done, but this wasn’t a great offensive showing against the worst defense in the conference.
The shooting performance — 47 percent on twos 36 percent on threes for a 51 eFG% — was just average, but Michigan only turned the ball over 6 times in a 67 possession game and 3 of those 6 came on the first three possessions of the game. In a run-and-gun game, the Wolverines gave themselves the biggest advantage just by getting a shot attempt on more trips down the floor. Michigan and Iowa had similar shooting performances, but Michigan had 6 turnovers to Iowa’s 16 and 11 offensive rebounds to Iowa’s 5.
Iowa came into this game with an effective offense, but played a sloppy turnover-prone game in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over once every three times down the floor in the first half and couldn’t generate much on offense other than mid-range jumpers for Luka Garza. Garza got his numbers — 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting — but Michigan did a good job of limiting Tyler Cook’s production until the game was decided.
The key to Michigan’s defensive performance, as it has been all season, was cleaning up the glass. The Wolverines rebounded 81% of Iowa’s misses, shutting down the best offensive rebounding team in the Big Ten. The Wolverines won the battle of second chance points by a final count of 13-4.
This game was also a great example of the 3-point gap that Michigan’s approach on both sides of the ball can create. The Wolverines attempted 33 3-pointers, making 12 of them, while Iowa was just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Michigan avoided the red blotch on its NCAA Tournament resume and now is in a position to go hunting. The Wolverines host Ohio State on Sunday before a pair of difficult road games at Penn State and Maryland. All three games should provide an opportunity for the Wolverines to bolster their resume with quadrant 1 or quadrant 2 victories.
- Duncan Robinson: Robinson heating up could be the best news that Michigan could ask for down the stretch. He’s now made 10 of his last 15 3-pointers after starting Big Ten play making just 15-of-53 triples. Robinson made 6-of-8 threes and shot the ball comfortably over the Iowa zone to help Michigan pull away. Michigan is 14-0 this year when Robinson makes at least two 3-pointers and he’s just 2-of-9 from deep in losses. The key continues to be getting him to be more aggressive with hunting his shot even in situations where he might be somewhat guarded. Robinson pulling the trigger on a 3-pointer is probably a better bet than him trying to drive to the rim. Robinson also deserves a lot of credit for battling down low against bigger and stronger Iowa players for much of the game and really holding his own, something he was unable to do in some earlier games this year.
- Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: Abdur-Rahkman continued to find himself in spots to make plays against the zone. He had some leak out layups and hard fouls, he drove against the zone in key spots, he knocked in a pair of threes. He’s really the one constant force in this Michigan rotation. His finishing has improved of late (he was 5-of-6 inside the arc today), but the key might be whether he can keep up from deep down the stretch.
- Moritz Wagner: Wagner got off to a hot start with 10 first half points, but took himself out of the game in the second half with foul trouble and a few missed bunnies. 14 points and five boards is a fairly ho-hum game for the junior big man, but setting the tone early and playing some physical defense in the post helped Michigan take control in the first half.
- Jaaron Simmons: This was the best game that Simmons has played in a Michigan uniform. Simpson received a quick hook after struggling to figure out Iowa’s zone and Simmons made the most of it. He quickly knocked down a 3-pointer and then really looked to move the ball well against the zone. HE had a turnover in transition, but he also racked up four assists and had a steal for an easy fastbreak layup.
- Jon Teske: Teske played 16 minutes off the bench and this was one of his better performances in a while. He had 8 rebounds (including 3 offensive) and kept countless possessions alive. He also had really active hands and was credited with 3 steals in the victory and threw a great outlet pass the length of the floor.
- Charles Matthews: More often than not, Matthews seems to get to the right spots on the floor to make a play, but the end product is just lacking right now. He struggled from the field 4-of-13 on twos, 0-of-3 on threes — and missed numerous shots around the basket. Matthews has obviously struggled to adjust to Big Ten scouting — he’s shooting 46% on twos and 29% on threes in league games — but the Wolverines are going to need more from him. The fact that he still provides 8 rebounds, a block, a steal and an assist means that there’s at least some flexibility to find that sweetspot, but he’s stuck in a frustrating stretch.
- Isaiah Livers: Livers was back in the lineup and played 21 minutes. He knocked in a corner 3-pointer, but had an otherwise quiet day.
- Zavier Simpson: Simpson has had some of his best assist totals in games against zones, but also looks a bit lost in others. This game was the later, he only attempted one shot (a missed corner three) and finished with 4 assists to 3 turnovers. He did play better after his initial shift and did a great job slowing down Jordan Bohannon.
- Jordan Poole: Michigan needs Jordan Poole to rediscover his shooting stroke. Poole is just 5-of-26 from 3-point range over the last eight games. He was 12-of-24 from 3-point range to start Big Ten play. Tonight, Poole played 8 minutes and scored 2 points on a pair of free throws while missing all four perimeter attempts.