116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Big Ten's other men's basketball teams have mostly been props for Michigan this season, like the cardboard cutouts that inadequately have replaced the fans at all the conference's arenas.
In Thursday night's roles as extras at Crisler Center were the ninth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, winners of their previous four games. The Hawkeyes were right there with the league-leading Wolverines for a half and the first few minutes after that, playing a continuation of the good defense they displayed in the winning streak. But No. 3 Michigan eventually tore away for a 79-57 win, its sixth-straight.
It was the Wolverines' fourth win of 15 or more points over a Top 25 team this season.
After posting their lowest point total and lowest points-per-possession output of the season, the Hawkeyes dropped to 17-7 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten. Michigan is 17-1, 12-1.
The Wolverines had two 7-0 runs followed by one of 9-0 to go from trailing 37-36 early in the second half to opening a 62-46 lead with 7:53 left.
'Our defense was really good in the first half and the first four minutes of the second half,' said Iowa's Luka Garza. 'Then it kind of fell apart.'
Michigan's offense took a while to get untracked, but untracked, it got. The Wolverines shot 54.3 percent in the second half.
Much of the punch was provided by sophomore forward Franz Wagner, who scored nine of Michigan's first 11 second-half points and had a game-high 21.
Iowa was led by 6-foot-11 center Garza's 16, but it wasn't a performance for his Player of the Year reel. The nation's leading scorer was 6-of-19 from the field in 33 minutes, stymied repeatedly by 7-1 freshman Hunter Dickinson, who had 14 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.
'Throughout the game I was getting shots I wanted,' Garza said. 'For some reason, there was just a lid on the rim for me tonight.
'There was no shot out there I couldn't make. ... I couldn't finish.'
Dickinson did no postgame gloating. 'Tonight was a battle,' he said. 'I'm still tired after that game.
'Luka makes you work on both ends.'
Garza wasn't the only Hawkeye who wasn't hitting. Iowa shot 35.6 percent from the field, and was 6-of-19 from 3-point distance. The team had four assists. That's right, four. It also was out-rebounded, 41-32.
To make matters significantly worse, sophomore center Jack Nunge suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee in the first half, returning to the bench in the second half on crutches. Nunge missed the majority of last season after suffering a torn ACL in that knee. He'll have an MRI Friday.
'He's an incredibly valuable member of our team,' Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said after the game.
'I'm praying it's not the same thing as the last recovery he had to go through,' Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon said, 'because that kid's been through hell.'
Starting guard Connor McCaffery, who led his team in rebounds with eight in 17 minutes of playing time, also left the game prematurely when he turned an ankle in the second half. He came back to the sideline after a trip to the locker room, but didn't re-enter the game.
'It really was bad at first,' Fran McCaffery said, 'then he went in (to the locker room) and did a little bit of stuff. He said he could have played. I don't think so. So our hope is to get him ready for Sunday.'
The Hawkeyes hop back into the fire Sunday with a 3 p.m. (CT) game at No. 4 Ohio State. The Buckeyes (18-6, 12-6) lost to Michigan Sunday, and fell 71-67 at Michigan State Thursday night.
'We have to do a better job of locking in defensively when we have a few shots roll out on us,' McCaffery said.
Were the regular season to end today, Michigan would be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and Iowa the No. 4. Which means they would meet in the semifinals if they won their quarterfinal games.
'Garza is going to remember this game,' Wolverines Coach Juwan Howard said. 'I just suspect that if we do see them again ... I don't expect Garza to play the way he did tonight. He's going to make adjustments. I know he will.'
Comments: (319) 398-8440; email@example.com