ANN ARBOR, Mich. — John Beilein offered hope to Iowa fans. His Michigan men’s basketball team offered yet another thrashing for the Hawkeyes to endure.
“They are so young,” Beilein said on Big Ten Network after the No. 21 Wolverines’ 74-59 win over Iowa Wednesday night at Crisler Center. “Freshmen and sophomores are out there all over the place.
“Just watch it over the next couple years. They’re like us three years ago when Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was playing as a freshman and Iowa was killing us.”
But it was Abdur-Rahkman and his experienced friends controlling matters this game in improving to 10-5 in the Big Ten, 21-7 overall. The senior had 18 points and seven assists. Fellow senior Duncan Robinson had 18 points, making six of Michigan’s 12 three-pointers.
Iowa, meanwhile, made just two 3-pointers on 10 tries. That was one part of a lackluster offensive performance. Another was 16 turnovers. Michigan had a season-high 13 steals.
“The thing that’s disappointing is nine turnovers in the first nine, 10 minutes of the game,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on the Hawkeye Radio Network broadcast. “You just can’t turn the ball over like that.”
It didn’t help that the Hawkeyes’ top two scorers this season, sophomores Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, had 10 and eight points instead of their Big Ten averages of 17 and 15.
Iowa is 3-12 in the Big Ten after its seventh conference road loss of at least 13 points, and 12-16 overall. It was the Hawkeyes’ fourth-straight loss, the last three against ranked teams.
The most-pronounced proof of the promising youth Beilein referenced was 6-foot-11 freshman Luka Garza. He made 10 of 16 shots from the field and had 22 points, his Big Ten-high. He had 25 points against Northern Illinois on Dec. 29.
“My teammates were giving me the ball in a position I could score,” Garza said.
“I’ve continued to do a better job being less antsy with the ball. I’m at my best when I’m just playing and not overthinking.”
Starting the game playing a 2-3 zone — unusual for a McCaffery-coached team at a game’s beginning — the Hawkeyes had the Wolverines flustered as Garza scored the game’s first four points and Iowa built a 7-0 lead. But Michigan settled in, and took its first lead with 14:53 left in the half. Thanks to seven 3-pointers, it had a 37-24 halftime advantage.
Garza scored Iowa’s first eight points of the second half. A Bohannon floater cut the Wolverines’ lead to 46-38 with 12:55 left. But Michigan then sank four 3-pointers in 2:29. The first was by Abdur-Rahkman. The next three were from Robinson, all after passes from Abdur-Rahkman.
After Robinson’s first 3 in that spree, “you can’t let him hit any more,” McCaffery said.
Its 12-4 run in that stretch upped Michigan’s lead to 58-42, and the Hawkeyes never got closer than 13 points in the final 10 minutes.
Isaiah Moss had 12 points for Iowa. He was one of just four Hawkeyes who scored more than two. Freshman Jack Nunge, making his first start since Jan. 2, was scoreless in 12 minutes after tallying a team-high 18 points at Ohio State last Saturday.
Iowa’s next game is at home against Indiana Saturday at 1 p.m.