Iowa wrap-up: Bad, but keep some perspective
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It was one dunk attempt in a series of possessions, but Iowa forward Aaron White's attempt changed the complexion of Iowa's game at No. 2 Michigan on Sunday.
White, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, went up strong for a game-tying dunk with 3 minutes left in the first half. He was met by Michigan freshman forward Mitch McGary, who knocked the ball away and spurred a fast break that led to a Trey Burke layup. Michigan then led by four points, and Iowa faded afterward.
"Once I made that block, they said it was like a turning point in the game," McGary said. "It sparked everybody on the bench.
"It was pretty cool. I was just sprinting down the court hoping I’d get a touchdown."
White scored just six points and grabbed two rebounds in 19 minutes for Iowa.
"I think he thought he had it," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "A kid made a great block on him; you’ve got to give him credit there. It was a clean block."
"It was a good play by McGary," said White, who just shrugged when asked about the dunk.
Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe returned to the lineup after spraining his right ankle against Indiana six days ago.
Basabe, a junior, played 15 minutes and scored two points against Michigan.
"It's getting better," Basabe said of his ankle. "I just got to make sure I do what I'm supposed to do. Injuries happen at this level so you can't let them slow you down. You've got to be able to play through them."
Basabe played nine minutes in the first half against Indiana and only four minutes against Coppin State, when he hurt his left ankle. He hasn't missed a game but his conditioning has suffered.
"Right now I have to go through a little extra conditioning because I have been hurt and stuff," he said. "You've just got to manage through that stuff. You can't let it slow you down.
"I've got get over this hurdle and not let it be an excuse. I still have to be able to perform and do my job for the team."
BREAKING IT DOWN
1. The Bad ...Holy smokes where to begin. Is the worst part allowing Michigan to score on 13 straight possessions to end the first half? Was it the 8-0 Michigan run to close the first half? Was it allowing the Wolverines to score on 33 of 41 possessions over a 23-minute span? Was it looking lackadaisical on defense for most of the second half? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Iowa sank seven 3-pointers but missed 13. Iowa was out-rebounded by 15 and allowed Michigan to shoot 58.1 percent from the field.
"They went on a run, we didn’t really answer," White said. "We took some bad shots. They had some run outs. (Glenn) Robinson had the layup at the end. (Tim) Hardaway had a dunk. A lot of easy baskets for them. To go down 11 at half, the second half just kind of got away from us. We didn’t play tough, we didn’t have defensive intensity."
2.The Ugly ... A couple of Iowa players were stuck in a hotel elevator on Saturday night. They were out in 10 minutes or so but it kind of served as a precursor for the weekend.
3. The Good ... OK, this is a bit of a stretch in a 95-67 loss. But, for 18 minutes, Iowa held its own against Michigan. The Hawkeyes jumped to a 7-0 lead and matched the Wolverines basket for basket until late in the first half. Iowa turned over the ball just seven times in a tough road environment. Freshman guard Anthony Clemmons was solid with 12 points and seven assists.
1. Keep it in perspective. Michigan is ranked No. 2 but they're clearly the best team I've seen or likely will see this year. The Wolverines boast the nation's best point guard in Trey Burke, who scored 19 points and dished 12 assists. They have a terrific outside shooter in Nik Stauskas. Michigan has outstanding wings in Glenn Robinson III (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) plus athletic posts Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary.
"Michigan is really good," Iowa guard Devyn Marble said. "They’re ranked No. 2 for a reason. It’s hard to get wins on the road in the Big Ten, and it shows why they’re one of the premier teams in the country right now."
Michigan (15-0) will beat nearly every team at home as badly as it dispatched Iowa. Remember the Hawkeyes ripped Michigan last year by 16 in Iowa City. Upper-echelon Iowa teams have suffered routs in Champaign and East Lansing for generations. It happens.
2. But there is cause for concern. This was Iowa's second true road game, and both times Iowa gave up 95 points. Iowa has had solid defensive performances at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this year, but continues to have major lapses on the road. There are no easy Big Ten road games. Iowa has lost four straight at Northwestern and five straight at Penn State.
Many of the problems stem from transition defense, and those problem will happen against good running teams like Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. But in the second half, effort on defense was a problem. That must change.
"We weren’t as tough as we needed to be for 40 minutes," McCaffery said. "I thought a big thing for us coming into this game was the start. So often in their 14-0 start, (they'd go up) 13-2, 19-4. I just didn’t think we could have that kind of experience in their building. So we handled that."
2. No need to panic. Iowa opened Big Ten play against two top-five teams. The Hawkeyes nearly upset one opponent and were blasted by the other. Last year Iowa lost 95-61 at Michigan State in a game where the Hawkeyes showed neither intensity nor toughness and seemed to quit. McCaffery rallied the team and four days later beat Michigan.
That said, magic won't prepare the Hawkeyes for Michigan State this Thursday. No team is more physical or well-coached as Michigan State. It's a challenge for sure, but Iowa beat the Spartans two years ago by 20 points.
Even if Iowa loses, there are 15 Big Ten regular-season games afterward. This team will get its wins.