Men’s basketball downed again at Michigan

BY IAN MARTIN | JANUARY 31, 2011 7:10 AM

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An early lead, a close game at halftime, and then a big run by the opponent in the second half — such is the story of so many Iowa basketball games this season. Sunday’s defeat at the hands of Michigan can be categorized the same way.

The Hawkeyes (8-13, 1-8) lost in Ann Arbor, 87-73, despite sticking with the tough Wolverines (13-9, 3-6) for most of the game.

The killer stretch began just a minute into the second half, with Iowa down 38-35. In just six minutes, Michigan had stretched its lead to 18 points, going up 62-44.

Iowa players were able to immediately point to problem after the fact.

“Energy, a sense of urgency. We started out the second half flat, me included,” freshman Melsahn Basabe said in a postgame radio interview. “As a team we can’t do that … because they’re still playing.”

Many of the Wolverines’ points came from beyond the arc; they eviscerated Iowa’s zone defense, shooting an astounding 14-of-28 from 3-point land.

Both head coaches seemed to think it was more a case of a clicking Michigan offense rather than poor Iowa defense that led to so many points.

“Our kids are really starting to get a better timing about what’s a good shot and what’s a shot maybe they should hold on to,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said after the game in an interview with the Big Ten Network.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery credited Michigan point guard Darius Morris with creating most of the Wolverine’s 3-point opportunities by penetrating and then kicking the ball out to open men.

“Morris was creative, their shooters were moving, and they made [the shots],” McCaffery said in a postgame radio interview. “What we have to do is stay closer and close out better.”

And a better close out usually equals a better box out, something Iowa also struggled with the whole afternoon.

The Hawkeyes were outrebounded by the worst rebounding team in the Big Ten, giving up seven offensive rebounds and 29 total.

The offense, however, was encouraging for Iowa.

Basabe had arguably his best game of his stellar début season, putting up a career-high 25 points and being one of the few players Michigan had trouble stopping.

Most of Basabe’s points were lay-ups, hence his 9-for-11 showing from the field. His short game also led to eight free throws, of which he only missed one.

Another player who may have had his best game was junior Bryce Cartwright, but not because of his shooting. While he did score a respectable 11 points, Cartwright was turnover-free for the first time this season.

This holds a high degree of difficulty since the Compton, Calif., native runs the point for typically more than three-fourths of the game.

These improvements are what the Hawkeyes need to see since the team has started the Big Ten season with a discouraging record.

Now, the team’s head coach says, it’s about putting these types of nights together back-to-back.

“I think our guys are battling, I think we’re getting better,” McCaffery said. “I’d like to see more consistency, both collectively and individually.”

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