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Posts Tagged ‘Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman’

#6 Maryland 86 – Michigan 82: Wolverines come up short of Maryland sweep

Sunday, February 21st, 2016


A loss is always a tough pill to swallow, whether inevitable or unexpected, in blowout fashion or nail-biting.

Today’s 86-82 Michigan loss to Maryland stings just a little more though. Perhaps that’s better than the numbness felt after some of the blowouts handed to the Maize and Blue earlier this year.

Few Wolverine fans were giving the visitors much of a shot at even competing on the Terrapins’ home floor this afternoon – let alone stealing a victory – but Michigan fought valiantly despite missing Caris LeVert once again. A win would have all but guaranteed a berth in the NCAA Tournament while a loss pushes Michigan ever closer to the bubble.

For the better part of the first half, it seemed that another lopsided, lightly contested loss was in order for a Michigan squad that’s been drubbed a bit too often this season. Before 10 minutes had passed after the tip, the Wolverines trailed by double digits and couldn’t get a shot to fall. A couple minutes later and the deficit had ballooned to 16 points on a Robert Carter and-1, completing a 17-1 run for Maryland that brought back nightmares of Indiana’s similarly devastating 25-0 first half blitz not long ago.

Michigan had every reason to fold this afternoon as they did against the Hoosiers. They were close to double digit underdogs and not supposed to be able to battle with the top-10 Terps.

But Derrick Walton didn’t want any of it. After trailing by 16, the junior orchestrated a 17-6 run for the visitors with some unlikely help from Kam Chatman.

Seemingly dead in the water midway through the first half, Michigan clawed back to make it a five-point deficit at the break.

Four Factors
Michigan Maryland
58 eFG% 50
22 OReb% 35
13 TO% 19
25 FTR 19

After halftime, the Wolverines continued to chip away at Maryland’s lead and eventually tied things up at 47 three minutes into the second half. What Walton had started, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Mark Donnal were finishing.

The redshirt sophomore Donnal (officially listed as a junior on Michigan’s roster) started dominating all over the floor, scoring 20 points less than 13 minutes into the second half while true sophomore Abdur-Rahkman sneakily dished out five dimes in the same time period while pouring in a few points of his own.

Still, Maryland would use their offensive firepower to take an eight-point lead just a few minutes after Michigan had tied things up. The Wolverines battled back yet again to take a 75-72 lead (tying their largest lead of the game) with just 5:51 to play, but the Terps finished the fight with a 14-7 finishing spurt to KO Michigan.

It’s not a loss to be disappointed in to be sure, considering Maryland is one of three teams in the country to be ranked in the top 10 for the entire season to date, but it’s a tough one to see slip away – even if it was never fully within Michigan’s grasp.

We saw tenacity from the Wolverines today that’s been all too absent in other losses, and we saw the offense get back on track following a rough shooting stretch over the last few games and in today’s first half. We also saw the reemergence of Donnal, who nearly matched his career high set in the first game of the Big Ten season with 25 points today on 10-of-13 shooting against an excellent Maryland front court. Donnal has now clearly separated himself from a shaky big man rotation after losing his starting job in each of the past two seasons to Ricky Doyle, who has struggled mightily this year, and is finishing bunnies, competing on the boards (two offensive/three defensive rebounds today), and providing some defensive resistance for a team sorely lacking on that end of the court (career high five blocks today). The Ohio native also showed off the three-point shot this afternoon that made him a four-star high school recruit with three straight triples to stretch the defense.

Walton’s 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals were also crucial to keep Michigan afloat, but his five turnovers were costly and his fifth foul late sealed the Wolverines’ fate.

That foul, which came on a push-off while driving to the rim with 18 seconds remaining and Michigan trailing by three, is not one you see called often, especially down the stretch in a close game. It wasn’t the strangest whistle of the afternoon though, unfortunately. That came a few minutes earlier with a one-point Maryland lead when Zak Irvin was chasing after a loose ball side-by-side with a Maryland player around halfcourt and puzzlingly called for a push as he reached to pick up the ball. It felt like a big momentum swing even though no free throws were involved, as did an earlier call on Walton for slapping at the ball – and getting what looked like all ball – against a big man.

Michigan’s bench play also left plenty to be desired. The six Wolverines to get minutes off the bench combined to score six points on 2/8 shooting with one rebound, two assists, a steal, and a turnover in 25 minutes. All those points came from Chatman, as did the rebound, the steal, and the assists.

The starters, meanwhile, all finished in double digits while playing between 29 and 39 minutes.

And the shots started falling, with 13 made threes on 27 attempts. But ultimately, Michigan’s 16 turnovers, 17 fouls (leading to 19 Maryland free throw attempts, of which they made 17), and porous defense were too much to overcome.

The loss certainly stings, and a giant opportunity was lost. I still think there’s reason for some hope and excitement, however, and a win over Northwestern at home on Wednesday would keep the Wolverines in the projected Big Dance field.

Quick Hitters

• Derrick Walton’s five fouls make him the first Wolverine to foul out all season.

• The loss today marks the only game John Beilein has ever lost at Michigan when the Wolverines scored 80 or more points, ending the streak at 50 games.

• Aubrey Dawkins played only four minutes, tying his season low, and did not take a shot for just the third time all season.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Mark Donnal***
25 points (7-of-9 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), five blocks, one turnover in 29 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr**
14 points (2-of-5 2pt, 3-of-7 3pt, 1-of-3 FT), six rebounds (three offensive), five assists, three steals, five turnovers in 37 minutes

*Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman*
16 points (4-of-8 2pt, 2-of-5 3pt, 2-of-3 FT), nine assists, two rebounds, three steals, one turnover in 39 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 29
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 15
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 9
Mark Donnal – 8
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 10-13 3-4 2-2 2 3 5 3 25 0 1 5 0 29
10 Derrick Walton* 5-12 3-7 1-3 3 3 6 5 14 5 5 0 3 37
21 Zak Irvin* 5-12 1-5 0-0 0 2 2 3 11 4 4 0 1 33
22 Duncan Robinson* 4-10 2-4 0-0 3 6 9 2 10 2 3 0 1 37
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 6-13 2-5 2-3 0 2 2 3 16 9 1 0 3 39
03 Kam Chatman 2-5 2-2 0-0 1 0 1 0 6 2 0 0 1 8
05 D.J. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
13 Moritz Wagner 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
24 Aubrey Dawkins 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
32 Ricky Doyle 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 10
Totals 32-68 13-27 5-8 12 18 30 17 82 22 16 5 9 200
Maryland 31-57 7-16 17-19 9 24 33 12 86 11 18 7 7
Full Stats

Ohio State 76 – Michigan 66: Punchless Wolverines fall at Ohio State

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

UM-OSU(Kyle Robertson, Columbus Dispatch)

Michigan’s trek to an NCAA Tournament bid got a bit tougher on Tuesday night. The Wolverines looked like they were going through the motions as they fell 76-66 at Ohio State.

Michigan shot just 39 percent from the field and made just 5-of-24 three-point attempts to drop their third game in the last five. Ohio State, meanwhile, shot 59.1 percent in the second half and 54 percent for the game to pick up their best win of the season.

Four Factors
Michigan Ohio State
43 eFG% 59
26 OReb% 11
13 TO% 13
31 FTR 46

Mark Donnal led the way for the Wolverines with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds. Zak Irvin added 15 points and Derrick Walton Jr 13, but the two combined to make just 10-of-24 shots from the field and 3-of-13 three-point attempts. Irvin became the 50th Michigan player to reach 1,000 points in his career.

It took Michigan nearly three minutes to score their first point, a pair of free throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Ohio State jumped out to a 7-2 lead. A Duncan Robinson three — his only points of the game — put Michigan ahead 12-10 at the 12:07 mark, but Ohio State closed the half on a 26-16 run to take a 36-28 halftime lead.

Michigan scored the first four points of the second half, but a 10-1 Ohio State run put the Buckeyes up 10 and Michigan could never recover. The Buckeye lead stayed between seven and 14 points the rest of the way.

Ohio State’s offense was balanced with Marc Loving and Jae’Sean Tate each scoring 13 points and Trevor Thompson and JaQuan Lyle both scoring 12.

At 19-8 overall and 9-5 in the Big Ten, Michigan likely needs to win at least two of its last four regular season games and one in the Big Ten Tournament to get an at-large bid into the Big Dance. One of those must be Northwestern next week; lose that one and they’re NIT bound. Then, Michigan needs to steal one of the games against Maryland, Wisconsin, or Iowa. Maryland is up next in College Park this Sunday. Michigan won the season’s first meeting in Ann Arbor, 70-67 on Jan. 12.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Mark Donnal***
17 points (6-of-10 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt, 5-of-6 FT), seven rebounds (three offensive), one assist, one turnover in 32 minutes

**Zak Irvin**
15 points (5-of-14 2pt, 2-of-6 3pt, 3-of-4 FT), nine rebounds (three offensive), three assists, two steals, four turnovers in 38 minutes

*Derrick Walton Jr*
13 points (5-of-14 2pt, 1-of-7 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), five rebounds (one offensive), five assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 27
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 15
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 8
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Mark Donnal – 5
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 6-10 0-1 5-6 3 4 7 2 17 1 1 0 0 32
10 Derrick Walton* 5-14 1-7 2-2 1 4 5 2 13 5 1 0 1 37
21 Zak Irvin* 5-14 2-6 3-4 3 6 9 0 15 3 4 0 2 38
22 Duncan Robinson* 1-6 1-5 0-0 0 6 6 4 3 1 1 1 0 28
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-8 0-2 3-4 0 0 0 4 9 1 0 0 0 30
05 D.J. Wilson 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 5
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
24 Aubrey Dawkins 1-5 1-3 0-0 3 2 5 4 3 0 1 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 2 4 0 1 0 0 7
Totals 23-59 5-24 15-18 10 24 34 20 66 11 9 1 3 200
Ohio State 27-50 5-14 17-23 3 28 31 17 76 14 9 4 0
Full Stats

Michigan 61 – Purdue 56: Wolverines honor ChadTough with key win

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

UM vs Purdue(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

After getting blown out at home two straight times within the last two weeks, Michigan needed an answer today as they welcomed another ranked opponent, Purdue, to the Crisler Center. It never looked or felt like that answer would come, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Wolverines had indeed finished on top, 61-56, thanks to an 11-0 run to end the game.

Neither team was able to find any sort of offensive rhythm this afternoon, and both teams shot worse than 40 percent from the floor, but Michigan looked like a team dead-set on defending their home floor after being embarrassed twice.

The Wolverines also looked like a team fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives; this win certainly bolsters their resume and gives them a second top-tier conference win. Paired with no bad losses and a couple other solid wins, Michigan looks the part of a safe bet to be dancing come March.

Perhaps the Maize and Blue looked like a group excited to have their veteran star back on the court too. Caris LeVert, of course, is that long lost star who made his return to the floor after missing 11 straight conference games with a mysterious left foot or ankle injury.

Regardless of the motivations behind the victory, Michigan fought tough in a crucial matchup that turned into a bizarre battle.

Purdue’s game revolves around the play of big men A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan, who are all skilled around the rim, shot blocking threats, and good rebounders. In addition to senior guard Raphael Davis, the big trio is the reason Purdue is one of the best defensive teams in the country, limiting the opposition to just 41.4 percent shooting from two-point range and a meager 30.9 percent from distance. They are also the reason the Boilermakers had outgained every single opponent in rebounding this year.

Four Factors
Michigan Purdue
41 eFG% 45
28 OReb% 20
10 TO% 15
40 FTR 26

Michigan, on the other hand, is all about guard play and offense. While their defensive rebounding numbers are pretty solid, the Wolverines are certainly not known to clean up the glass with any consistency, and in fact point guard Derrick Walton is actually their best defensive rebounder. They also can struggle to score inside on occasion, which was evident both in Michigan’s earlier loss at Purdue and in today’s win. And because of John Beilein’s offensive system, Michigan almost always has a size disadvantage at the four position, with 6-foot-6 junior Zak Irvin getting most of their minutes there.

Yet somehow, Michigan today managed to both outscore Purdue in the paint (24-22, 66.7%-45.8% on shots in the paint) and outrebound them overall (39-35). And while I’m of the belief that straight up rebounding margin doesn’t mean much, that is certainly an impressive stat, bolstered by the fact that the difference in rebounding today was with the Wolverines grabbing four more of the offensive variety.

It’s not every day you see a Beilein squad out-physical a high quality team for a win – especially one with such inside prowess as Purdue – but today was not every day either.

In another strange occurrence, Zak Irvin was the only Michigan player to crack double digits, and he couldn’t have done it in a crazier way. The Indiana native was ice cold in the first half, having scored just six (2-of-5 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 2-of-3 FT) of his game-high 22 points in the opening 20 minutes before catching fire in the second half with 16 points on 2-of-6 shooting inside the arc and 4-of-6 from long range.

Walton, coming off a career night in a victory at Minnesota earlier this week, could not get a shot to fall until finally ending a 0-of-9 streak with 2:06 to play on a beautiful and-1 finish. He did, however, make his free throws to seal the deal and grabbed a pair of crucial rebounds on Purdue’s final two misses.

You want more strange? How about Duncan Robinson, Michigan’s leading three-point shooter, attempting only one three on the afternoon, and missing that one, but scoring four points inside the arc? And, to make things interesting, he only played 21 minutes because of foul trouble.

Don’t worry, there’s more. LeVert, who was Michigan’s leader in many statistical categories before falling prey to injury and losing so many games, played 11 minutes, all in the first half, and had five more rebounds than he had points – of which he had none on only one shot attempt.

The strange continues on and on: Kameron Chatman and D.J. Wilson, usually seen riding the pine, saw six minutes of combined action and scored two points apiece, but were chosen to lead the team in The Victors following the win in the locker room.

And, oh yeah – did I mention that Michigan won a game making 36.4 percent of their shots and only five of 20 threes? And that the Wolverines pulled it out despite only leading for about 6:30 of playing time, with most of that coming shortly after the tip? How about that Michigan trailed by 10 points roughly halfway into the first half and looked primed for another home beatdown before clawing back?

It was bizarre in many ways, and I never thought Michigan would come out on top until the very end. But the Wolverines deserve plenty of credit. They never seemed to be in the game, but they were almost always within 4-6 points despite their epic shooting woes. There were plenty of times that they could have seen their shot not fall and proceed to wilt away because it wasn’t their day.

So you could look at this game and cry that it was a fluke.

But you could also look at it and see some toughness, some grit, some fight. You could see a team that can win in more than one way.

I’ll choose the latter.

Quick Hitters

• John Beilein said after the game that he didn’t expect LeVert to be ready to play before yesterday’s practice, but LeVert had a good practice where he was able to go full-court for a while and “got gassed” pretty quickly. Following that practice, LeVert told his coach that he wanted to give it a go. Before letting that happen, Beilein wanted to make sure it was the right decision and checked back with him a few times. He also insisted that LeVert participate in regular warmups to see how his ankle/foot held up.

Because of the late decision, Beilein mentioned that there was not much offense drawn up for LeVert, and they were aiming to give him 10-15 minutes of playing time to loosen him up and help him get back in the flow of things. He did not specify whether LeVert sitting for the entire second half was planned, but Beilein also did not seem worried about it at all and said he would have been available in an emergency situation, and seemed to indicate that he will be on track to give it a go again at Ohio State on Tuesday. LeVert was not available to the media following the game, but there were no indications that he aggravated his injury or did not feel well enough to go play in the second half.

• After Derrick Walton missed his first three open looks, Beilein said he gave Walton motivation or confidence by telling him to “make the shots, damn it”. It did not necessarily work, as Walton missed plenty more open shots along the way, but his layup and free throws down the stretch with critical.

• Mark Donnal had another serviceable game, with eight points on 2-of-6 shooting and 4-of-4 free throws. He also dunked for the second straight game, which I believe are his only two dunks in conference play despite seeing drastically increased playing time and a much larger role in the offense.

• I also thought Ricky Doyle had another pretty solid game with four points on 2-of-2 shooting in 14 minutes, but his free throws continue to disappoint. He missed his only two attempts from the line today to bring his average to 60.5 percent on the season.

• Speaking of free throws, you’ll never guess who the only Wolverine to have attempted at least 15 free throws and have a worse percentage than Doyle is. Well, you probably will because if you are reading this you’ve probably seen most of Michigan’s games…but the answer is Zak Irvin, who is inexplicably shooting a woeful 60.4% at the charity stripe. In one of the stranger things I saw today (and it was a strange day indeed – see above), I looked up Irvin’s career numbers at the free throw line after he missed his first attempt today – a front-end of a 1-and-1 – badly and saw a statistical oddity: Irvin’s numbers at the line have gotten worse year-over-year since his freshman season. As a pure shooter in his first year, Irvin made 71.4% of his free throws. As a sophomore, the number dropped slightly to a still-respectable 68.9 percent. Now in his junior season, the mark has plummeted by a whopping 8.5 percent. It’s rare to see a pure shooter have such poor shooting numbers, and even rarer to see someone’s free throw percentage drop two consecutive years.

• A couple won a $500 jewelry gift card during a timeout contest…and then got engaged immediately after at center court. I have never seen a ring purchased so quickly in my life.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
22 points (8-of-19 2pt, 4-of-8 3pt, 2-of-3 FT), five rebounds (one offensive), one assist in 35 minutes

**Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman**
9 points (2-of-4 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt, 0-of-0 FT), four rebounds (three offensive), two assists, three steals, one turnover in 36 minutes

*Mark Donnal*
8 points (2-of-6 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt, 4-of-4 FT), one rebound (one offensive), one turnover in 20 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 26
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 13
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 8
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Mark Donnal – 2
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 2-6 0-1 4-4 1 0 1 4 8 0 1 0 0 20
10 Derrick Walton* 1-10 0-6 4-5 0 7 7 4 6 1 2 0 2 36
21 Zak Irvin* 8-19 4-8 2-3 1 4 5 1 22 1 0 0 0 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 2-4 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 3 4 2 0 0 0 21
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-6 1-1 2-3 3 1 4 1 9 2 1 0 3 36
03 Kameron Chatman 0-2 0-2 2-2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 4
05 D.J. Wilson 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 2
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
23 Caris LeVert 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 5 5 0 0 1 1 0 0 11
24 Aubrey Dawkins 1-4 0-1 2-2 1 3 4 1 4 0 1 0 0 17
32 Ricky Doyle 2-2 0-0 0-2 1 2 3 3 4 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 20-55 5-20 16-22 11 28 39 15 61 7 6 1 5 200
Purdue 21-53 6-12 8-14 7 28 35 18 56 8 9 3 2
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan hoops preview: #18 Purdue

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Michigan vs Purdue
Saturday, Feb. 13 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Line: Purdue -1.5
77.0 Points/gm 78.4
(681-1,406) 48.4 Field Goal % 46.1 (689-1,493)
(262-641) 40.9 3-pt FG % 35.4 (196-554)
(300-408) 73.5 Free Throw % 74.7 (387-518)
12.0 FT Made/gm 15.5
32.0 Reb/gm 42.5
15.6 Assists/gm 17.8
9.8 Turnovers/gm 12.6
66.4 Points/gm 63.7
(610-1,395) 43.7 Field Goal % 38.2 (573-1,501)
(179-522) 34.3 3-pt FG % 31.1 (146-469)
32.3 Opp. Reb/gm 31.1
5.8 Steals/gm 4.8
2.3 Blocks/gm 5.2
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Derrick Walton (12.3) Points/gm A.J. Hammons (14.7), Vince Edwards (10.4)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Caleb Swanigan (8.8), A.J. Hammons (8.2)

Michigan stopped the bleeding with a 82-74 win at Minnesota on Wednesday night, but it was far from convincing. The Wolverines blew a 17-point lead and had to hang on to avoid handing Minnesota its first win in nearly two months. That would have assuredly placed Michigan on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble, but as for now the Wolverines are still likely in barring a meltdown in the final six games. A win over 18th-ranked Purdue this afternoon would go a long way toward helping that cause.

Purdue won the season’s first meeting in West Lafayette, 87-70, despite a 25-point performance from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Three Zak Irvin free throws pulled Michigan within six with 5:20 remaining, but Purdue went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.

Four Purdue players scored in double figures, led by center A.J. Hammons’ 17 points. The 7-foot-0, 250-pound senior leads the team with an average of 14.7 points and 2.7 blocked shots per game and ranks second with 8.2 rebounds. In his last four games he has averaged 21.3 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field. In the Boilermakers’ overtime win over Michigan State on Tuesday, Hammons nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks.

Sophomore forward Vince Edwards (6-foot-8, 225) is the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 10.4 points and third leading rebounder with 5.2 boards per game. He recorded 11 points and seven rebounds in the first meeting. However, Edwards has been in a slump the last two weeks, shooting just 25.9 percent from the field (7-of-27) and 16.7 percent from three-point range (2-of-12) while averaging just 7.7 points.

Freshman forward Caleb Swanigan (6-foot-9, 250) and sophomore center Isaac Haas (7-foot-2, 282) each scored just seven points in the Jan. 7 meeting, but add to Purdue’s significant size advantage. Swanigan averages 9.8 points and a Big Ten-leading 8.8 rebounds per game. Haas averages 10 points and four boards.

The backcourt is lead by senior guard Raphael Davis (6-foot-6, 217) and junior guard Kendall Stephens (6-foot-7, 205). Davis scored 16 in the first meeting and is the team’s best three-point shooter, averaging 40.6 percent. He made 6-of-8 three-point attempts on his way to 24 points against Michigan State on Tuesday. Stephens missed four games for personal reasons, but returned against Michigan State and played just three minutes. His absence has yielded increased minutes for sophomore guard P.J. Thompson (5-foot-10, 188), who scored eight points in the first meeting, and senior guard Johnny Hill (6-foot-3, 187), who scored 10.

Michigan and Purdue are tied for fourth in the Big Ten at 8-4, but the Boilers are a bad matchup for Michigan. They rank second in the Big Ten with 42.5 rebounds per game, while Michigan ranks last with 32. And Purdue’s defense — second-best field goal percentage defense in the conference — will undoubtedly force Michigan into one of the extended scoring droughts that have become all too common this season. Perhaps Michigan can harness the power of the sold out home crowd that will be honoring and raising awareness for the ChadTough Foundation. But after last week’s gaffes against Indiana and Michigan State I wouldn’t count on it.

Michigan 82 – Minnesota 74: Wolverines survive Gopher scare

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

MAAR vs Minnesota(Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports)

After the roughest week of the season with back-to-back lopsided home losses, Michigan desperately needed a win at Minnesota to boost their confidence with the conference season coming to the final stretch.

Luckily for the Wolverines, the Golden Gophers looked like the perfect bounceback opportunity, having a still-winless Big Ten record. And for the majority of Wednesday night, it looked like Michigan would coast to the all-important victory to maintain their spot on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble behind Derrick Walton’s remarkable 19-point first half.

With 7:30 left to play, Duncan Robinson hit his second straight inexplicably wide open three-pointer to give Michigan a massive 70-53 cushion, and Minnesota seemed ready to call it a night.

Two minutes and 40 seconds later, however, and the Golden Gophers had scored 11 straight points – mostly at the free throw line – to cut the gap to just six points.

A little more than three minutes after that, Michigan found itself up a mere two points despite yet another timely triple from Robinson along the way. This time, Minnesota was simply slicing through the ever-porous Wolverine defense for uncontested layups – no fouls needed.

For those of you who struggle with math (and I’m one of them), that’s a 19-4 run that Minnesota managed to orchestrate in a less-than six minute stretch.

A loss tonight, and Michigan’s hopes of dancing would probably be toast.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman knew it, and decided to finally do something about the inexplicable comeback launched by a miserable team.

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
67 eFG% 50
10 OReb% 22
15 TO% 10
38 FTR 33

The sophomore received the ball in the right corner and, instead of settling for a jumper, drove straight along the baseline, lowered his shoulder, and drew an and-1 foul on senior Carlos Morris. Rahk finished the three-point play to give Michigan a bit of breathing room once again, and finished with 16 points on a perfect shooting night (2-of-2 2pt, 3-of-3 3pt, 3-of-3 FT).

Following a missed three on the other end, Michigan got the ball back with time to kill. But Walton and Robinson ran into each other, causing the ball to spill into the hands of Morris, who looked to be leading a two-on-zero break for the Gophers, giving them a chance to make it a one possession game yet again.

Yet again, though, Rahk wouldn’t have it, racing from behind to poke the ball away from a streaking Morris, then gathering it on Minnesota’s baseline and forcing up a pass before falling out of bounds. The pass was tipped by Nate Mason out of bounds, and Michigan would survive by making five of their six free throws to secure an 82-74 win, bringing their conference record to 8-4 with an 18-7 overall mark.

It’s a sigh of relief for a team that many thought was spiraling downward – and fast – after looking lifeless against Indiana and Michigan State last week. And though the defense is still far from fixed and a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Minnesota is nothing to brag about, Michigan needed to answer the bell in an undeniably must-win situation.

This was the last matchup with one of the doormat teams in the Big Ten for John Beilein’s squad, and outside of a home tilt with Northwestern, the remaining games will not be easy.

Perhaps there is still reason for some optimism, with Michigan getting back on track from deep tonight to the tune of a 14-of-25 (56 percent) final three-point mark, led by Walton (5-of-8), Robinson (4-of-7), Rahk (3-of-3), and Aubrey Dawkins (2-of-4). That will be key moving forward, considering the Wolverines still lack a killer one-on-one threat with Caris LeVert having missed his 11th straight game tonight. And with Purdue coming to town Saturday in another monumental matchup, nothing will come easy inside.

For now, Michigan will take the win and continue to look for Walton and Robinson to carry the offense as they did tonight, with a career-high 26 points and 14 points, respectively.

From here on out, it’s one game at a time. After all, that’s the only way.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
26 points (4/7 2pt, 5/8 3pt, 3/5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), seven assists, two steals, three turnovers in 37 minutes

**Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman**
16 points (2/2 2pt, 3/3 3pt, 3/3 FT), one rebound, two assists, two steals, one turnover in 35 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
14 points (1/2 2pt, 4/7 3pt), nine rebounds, one assist, one block, one turnover in 30 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 26
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 10
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 6
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 4-8 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 4 8 1 0 1 0 19
10 Derrick Walton* 9-15 5-8 3-5 1 7 8 1 26 7 3 0 2 37
21 Zak Irvin* 1-8 0-1 2-4 0 2 2 2 4 3 4 0 2 36
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-9 4-7 0-0 0 9 9 3 14 1 1 1 0 30
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 5-5 3-3 3-3 0 1 1 1 16 2 1 0 2 35
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 3
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-5 2-4 0-0 0 3 3 2 8 1 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 1-1 0-0 4-8 0 1 1 4 6 0 0 0 0 20
Totals 28-52 14-25 12-20 3 25 28 17 82 17 10 2 6 200
Minnesota 27-58 4-19 16-19 7 26 33 14 74 14 7 3 6
Full Stats

Michigan 79 – Penn State 72: Season low six threes can’t stop Michigan in MSG

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Robinson vs PSU(Julie Jacobson, AP)

John Beilein’s Michigan teams have always gotten the “live by the three, die by the three” saying tacked onto them – but sometimes mistakenly so. In today’s matchup with Penn State at Madison Square Garden, an uninformed observer would have been forgiven if he thought the saying applied more to the Nittany Lions, as Michigan attempted only 20 triples (versus 35 two-point attempts) and made just six of them.

That’s in stark contrast to the Wolverines’ normal trend of taking nearly half of their field goal tries from distance – at 46.9 percent, they attempt more threes per field goal attempt than all but seven other teams in the country.

The Wolverines, however, still managed to get the job done with a 79-72 victory to bring their conference record to 7-2 halfway through Big Ten play.

With Penn State selling out to guard the deep shot, Michigan was content to drive inside and take what was left to them, led by Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s efforts, who combined to make 12 of their 19 (63.2%) attempts inside the arc. The duo paced Michigan with 35 total points on an array of hard takes to the rim while Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal added 13 and 10 points, respectively, and cleaned up the boards to the tune of 16 rebounds.

Four Factors
Michigan Penn State
51 eFG% 49
32 OReb% 36
11 TO% 17
56 FTR 24

Duncan Robinson was the odd man out as the only starter to not reach double figures, and the one Wolverine neutralized most by Penn State’s aggressive defensive tactics. The pure shooter only got one trey to fall – the first time he’s failed to make multiple threes since a late November loss to UConn – on a measly (for him) five attempts, which ties for his lowest triple tries in a single Big Ten game.

Throughout the first half, the two teams happily traded punch for punch as each seemingly scored at will after a couple quick steps into the lane. But an Irvin corner three at the buzzer put the “visiting” Wolverines up by 12.

Penn State would never get closer than five in the second half despite some beyond-NBA-range threes falling for sophomore Shep Garner late; Michigan pushed the lead to as many as 15.

As soon as it seemed that the Nittany Lions could threaten to take the lead following a 9-0 run late in the second half, Robinson made his biggest shot of the game on a beautiful drive and left-hand finish before Walton threaded a dime – one of his game-high seven assists – to Rahk on the fast break to bring the lead right back to nine points with just over four minutes remaining.

Penn State’s magic proceeded to run out and Michigan made nine of their 10 free throws over the final 1:49 to put the clamps on their third straight win.

The Wolverines continued to play without star senior Caris LeVert, as he was dressed in street clothes for the eighth straight game, but his left ankle is reportedly getting close to full strength.

His return over the next week would be a major boon for a Michigan team that has impressively navigated through the first half of their conference schedule but faces Indiana and Michigan State this coming Tuesday and Saturday, respectively.

Nonetheless, Beilein’s squad has held serve against the teams they’ve been expected to beat and has looked competitive in their two losses.

Today’s win in the first half of a basketball/hockey double-header in the heart of the Big Apple was another expected victory for Michigan, but perhaps a step in the right direction, complete with proof that Beilein doesn’t need to see his team drain everything from deep to remain in control.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
20 points (5-of-8 2pt, 2-of-4 3pt, 4-of-7 FT), two rebounds, one assist, one turnover in 34 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
13 points (2-of-5 2pt, 1-of-4 3pt, 6-of-6 FT), 10 rebounds (one offensive), seven assists, three steals, zero turnovers in 39 minutes

*Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman*
13 points (7-of-11 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), three rebounds (two offensive), one assist, one steal, two turnovers in 35 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 23
Duncan Robinson – 16
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 10
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 4
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 2-4 0-0 6-8 4 2 6 3 10 1 1 1 0 25
10 Derrick Walton* 3-9 1-4 6-6 1 9 10 2 13 7 0 0 3 39
21 Zak Irvin* 7-12 2-4 4-7 0 2 2 1 20 1 1 0 0 34
22 Duncan Robinson* 2-6 1-5 4-4 1 1 2 3 9 2 0 0 1 27
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 7-13 0-2 1-2 2 3 5 2 15 1 2 0 1 35
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-5 2-4 1-2 1 1 2 2 7 1 1 0 2 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-4 0-0 1-2 1 2 3 1 5 0 0 1 0 16
Totals 25-55 6-20 23-31 11 23 34 14 79 13 7 2 7 200
Penn State 26-62 9-29 11-15 13 23 36 23 72 13 11 4 3
Full Stats

Michigan 74 – Minnesota 69

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Irvin vs Minnesota(

After Wednesday night’s game that saw Minnesota visit Michigan, Golden Gopher coach Richard Pitino revealed that he’s been pleading with his hapless team to “win ugly”.

Unfortunately, his players only got the former half of that right.

The Wolverines, however, fully personified the phrase with a thank-goodness-that’s-over 74-69 victory to move to 4-2 in conference play and 14-5 overall. Minnesota left Ann Arbor still in search of their first Big Ten win after their seventh failed effort.

Once again without the services of senior leader Caris LeVert, whose fifth straight absence with a mysterious lower left leg injury continues to make fans increasingly nervous, Michigan’s juniors stepped up to the plate to lead the effort.

Zak Irvin, whose three-point shooting mark sat at a brutal 20 percent after non-conference play, continued to show off a more confident stroke – hitting three of his five triples – while mixing in a handful of comfortable drives, dishes, and finishes at the rim on his way to a 19-point, 11-rebound, three-assist performance. Since turning the calendar to Big Ten play, Irvin has flipped a switch, with a 46.4 percent mark from deep (13-of-28) and 23 assists in six games (3.8 per on a 21.2 assist rate – tops on the team since the New Year). And while his finishing inside the arc has actually been worse than from distance (40% in conference play), the Indiana native appears to be more aggressive driving to the rack without LeVert available.

He insists that it’s all simply part of the team’s “Next Man Up” mentality.

Derrick Walton, Irvin’s classmate, helped out with 22 points and six rebounds while playing nearly from tip to buzzer. Walton struggled from deep, converting on only one of his six triple tries, but he looked better finishing at the rim last night and made good from the charity stripe (11-of-12) despite coming into the game with an uncharacteristically low 73.8 percent conversion rate at the line (he made 79.3% and 83.3% in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, respectively).

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
44 eFG% 47
23 OReb% 19
8 TO% 17
37 FTR 29

No other Wolverine managed to reach double figures despite what seemed like a bevy of open looks, as the team finished with a rancid 29 percent rate from three and 43.8 percent rate from two for an effective FG% of just 43.7 percent.

Despite the shooting struggles, it never felt like Michigan was in serious danger of dropping the game – even if they did appear to be in hibernation for much of the contest. For what it’s worth, KenPom’s statistical win probability meter agreed, with the Maize and Blue never falling below a 90.8 percent likelihood of pulling it out – they were up by at least three points the entire second half.

Minnesota was paced by sophomore Nate Mason’s career high 25 points on 16 shots while Carlos Morris and Jordan Murphy combined for 27 points on 23 shots. As a team, the Gophers simply couldn’t hit anything from deep when it mattered – they didn’t make a three in the second half until there were 25 seconds left in the game – and finished with a poor 27.3 percent mark from distance. The visitors did, however, have some success driving and made 51.4 percent of their two-point looks, which Beilein attributed to a defensive focus on sticking with Minnesota’s perimeter shooters. And though Beilein said that strategy worked, citing the Golden Gophers’ shooting woes, Minnesota’s strength has always been getting to the hole and drawing fouls. Still, it was never going to be enough for Pitino’s squad, who also could not overcome then-leading scorer Joey King’s quiet three-point outing.

Fortunately, style points do not come into play in college basketball, and a lousy home win over Minnesota still goes into the proper column for Michigan, who has their sights set on competing for a conference title and jockeying for position in the Big Dance. It might sound a little far-fetched right now, and I’m certainly not arguing that the Wolverines are favorites in the Big Ten, but a 4-2 record with a slew of winnable games over the next few weeks is working just fine for now.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
19 points (5-of-12 2pt, 3-of-5 3pt), 11 rebounds (one offensive), three assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
22 points (4-of-7 2pt, 1-of-6 3pt, 11-of-12 FT), six rebounds, one assist, one steal, one turnover in 39 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
9 points (0-of-2 2pt, 3-of-10 3pt), five rebounds, one steal in 36 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Derrick Walton Jr – 15
Duncan Robinson – 14
Zak Irvin – 6
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 3
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 2-4 1-2 0-1 2 1 3 4 5 2 3 1 0 23
10 Derrick Walton* 5-13 1-6 11-12 0 6 6 2 22 1 1 0 1 39
21 Zak Irvin* 8-17 3-5 0-0 1 10 11 2 19 3 1 0 1 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-12 3-10 0-0 0 5 5 1 9 0 0 0 1 36
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 0-3 0-2 6-8 0 4 4 4 6 2 0 1 0 29
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 5
13 Moritz Wagner 2-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 8
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-7 1-4 0-0 1 2 3 2 7 0 0 0 0 15
32 Ricky Doyle 0-1 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 5
Totals 23-63 9-31 19-23 9 29 38 18 74 9 6 2 4 200
Minnesota 25-59 6-22 13-17 7 31 38 22 69 10 12 4 1 200
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

#16 Iowa 82 – Michigan 71

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Darren Miller,

Darren Miller,

Today, Michigan played about as well as could be expected on the road without their leading scorer and their best player. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Wolverines in Iowa City, who will make the trip back to Ann Arbor with a 13-5 (3-2 Big Ten) record after an 82-71 loss.

Despite a ferocious comeback after falling into a quick 11-0 deficit and a couple more encouraging spurts along the way, Michigan simply couldn’t finish it off against an Iowa team that is firing on all offensive cylinders and is off to a 5-0 start – including two blowout victories over Michigan State and an epic comeback over #14 Purdue – in conference play.

Iowa came storming out of the gates this afternoon behind other-worldly shooting to take a double-digit lead within the first 2:11 of game time, making it look effortless and putting Michigan in danger of falling into the same pit as their in-state foes, who trailed by double digits for the entire second half last Thursday.

Instead, the Wolverines showed heart and fought back to eventually take a 21-20 lead less than 10 minutes after being down 11 with an array of wide open dunks and layups exploited by John Beilein’s coaching prowess.

Not to be outdone, the Hawkeyes followed that up with a 15-5 stretch of their own in just over six minutes of action, highlighted by a steal at midcourt that led to a one-man Adam Woodbury fast-break dunk.

The Wolverines cut the deficit to five by halftime and looked poised to steal a second statement game in as many tries when they regained the lead less than five minutes into the second stanza, but Iowa’s offensive barrage simply never slowed enough despite a respectful 46.3 percent mark from the floor for the visitors.

Four Factors
Michigan Iowa
56 eFG% 59
33 OReb% 23
20 TO% 6
26 FTR 18

Despite the pesky effort from the Wolverines, the Hawkeyes never lost flight, making more than half of their own attempts from the field and a ridiculous 45.5 percent of their threes.

Michigan was led by 16 points from point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and a nice 12-point outing from sophomore Aubrey Dawkins. Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson poured in 11 apiece, but both were frequently disturbed by Iowa’s length on the perimeter. Irvin in particular struggled to penetrate a variety of defensive looks, turning it over three times, as he tried to reprise Caris LeVert’s role as best as he could.

Jared Uthoff paced the home squad with a (somehow) quiet 23 points on 20 shots while Peter Jok chipped in 16, including 14 in the second half that always seemed to come at the perfect moment for Iowa fans. Senior center Adam Woodbury also added 12 points on seven shots and the German, Dom Uhl, added a timely 10 points while senior floor general Mike Gesell only managed four points on as many shots.

We’ve heard time and again that there’s no such thing as a “moral victory” in college basketball, and that’s fine and good. But there’s also no denying that Michigan is starting to come into form despite missing a likely first round draft pick. Yes, they’ve “only” gone 1-2 over their last three, but a stretch of at Purdue, vs. Maryland, and at Iowa is going to be about as difficult as any team in the country faces this season. And the Wolverines escaped with one win, one closely contested loss, and one defeat that could have been a lot worse given the individual matchups.

If nothing else, John Beilein is finally getting productivity from every spot on the floor. Derrick Walton, still caught in a mini shooting rut, hit a couple big triples today despite a 5-of-14 mark from the floor and dished out six assists to just one turnover.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, LeVert’s de facto replacement in the starting lineup, had an efficient seven points on five attempts, made his only three-point try, and recorded four assists for just the third time in his career – and the second time in a row.

Zak Irvin’s 11 points came on eight attempts and, though he sometimes tried to do too much on offense in LeVert’s stead, again battled defensively despite being three inches shorter than his counterpart and gathered eight total rebounds along with five assists.

Duncan Robinson had arguably his worst offensive game of the season, but he still scored 11 points on nine attempts (despite a 2-of-8 mark from downtown) and again showcased improved versatility with a nice take to the rack and a pair of assists.

Lastly, Mark Donnal rounded out the starting lineup and hustled his way to eight points on seven shots along with seven rebounds, including three on the offensive end. He’s still not an All-Conference type, but the strides he has made since the start of this season are remarkable. No longer is he timidly going after rebounds or asking for the ball; no, he is now hoping to see the rock come his way on offense, contesting shots on defense, and flying all over the floor for loose balls.

And that’s not even mentioning the sixth-man of the day. Aubrey Dawkins, who shone last year while Derrick Walton and LeVert sat through much of conference play, has gotten off to a slow start this season, but his game continues to develop. Today, he knocked down three of his five attempts from beyond the arc, made a very difficult entry pass look like an easy lay-in finish, and even assisted Moritz Wagner on a dunk on a beautiful roll midway through the first half, which earn him a big hug from Beilein.

In the end, it was 13 uncharacteristic turnovers that did Michigan in, and a remarkably low four turnovers from Iowa – including zero in the second half – that led to seven more shot attempts for the home team, that made the difference.

All in all, no Big Ten team ever wants to lose home or away. But it’s tough to look at the fight from Michigan today and say that hope is lost.

In fact, I’d say the season looks more hopeful than ever with the next four games coming versus Minnesota, at Nebraska, versus Rutgers, and at Penn State.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
16 points (2-of-3 2pt, 3-of-11 3pt, 3-of-4 FT), six assists, five rebounds (one offensive), one turnover in 36 minutes

**Zak Irvin**
11 points (2-of-6 2pt, 1-of-2 3pt, 4-of-5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), five assists, one steal, three turnovers in 30 minutes

*Aubrey Dawkins*
12 points (1-of-1 2pt, 3-of-5 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, one turnover in 18 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Duncan Robinson – 13
Derrick Walton – 13
Zak Irvin – 3
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 3
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 4-7 0-0 0-0 4 4 8 2 8 0 3 0 0 28
10 Derrick Walton* 5-14 3-11 3-4 1 3 4 2 16 6 1 0 0 36
21 Zak Irvin* 3-8 1-2 4-5 1 7 8 1 11 5 3 0 0 30
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-9 2-8 3-3 0 2 2 4 11 2 2 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-5 1-1 0-0 1 2 3 0 7 4 3 2 0 33
05 D.J. Wilson 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 6
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
13 Moritz Wagner 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 10
24 Aubrey Dawkins 4-6 3-5 1-2 0 2 2 1 12 1 1 1 1 18
32 Ricky Doyle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 25-54 10-28 11-14 10 23 33 14 71 18 13 3 1 200
Iowa 31-61 10-22 10-11 7 20 27 13 82 19 4 3 8 200
Full Stats

Michigan 70 – #3 Maryland 67

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Walton vs Maryland(

With seven minutes and 33 seconds left on the clock last night, Michigan came face-to-face with its season. The Wolverines could see the opportunity right in front of them, they could taste it in the beads of sweat running down their faces, they could feel it in their thumping hearts and hear it in the deafening roars of the crowd.

With 7:33 left against No.3 ranked Maryland, Michigan was tied up at 54 on their home floor. They had let the Terrapins chip away at a 13-point second half lead, but the victory could still be wrested from the hands of their foes.

They almost let it slip away. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman would re-take the lead 33 seconds later before Maryland’s freshman sensation Diamond Stone muscled his way to an and-1 – and Maryland’s first lead of the second half – on the other side of the floor.

Down their star senior, Caris LeVert, and struggling to keep their legs under them after a comfortable cushion was so quickly removed, the Wolverines had every reason to give up.

Instead, juniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton embraced their squad’s “Next Man Up” mantra, put the team on their shoulders, and led the Maize and Blue to a nerve-racking, season-defining 70-67 win.

When the going got rough, Irvin and Walton stepped up like John Beilein hadn’t seen before to ensure that this game would not fall through the cracks and be another “so close” in the loss column.

A few minutes after Stone’s three-point play, Walton swished a gutsy step-back triple from the right wing to give his team a five point edge, then Irvin took matters into his own hands on the following possession with a no-no-no-YES triple off the bounce from the top of the key to bring the lead to eight. Rasheed Sulaimon quickly nailed a three for Maryland before Walton hit another difficult jumper – this time a two – to go up seven with 2:11 to play.

Another three from Sulaimon would start the serious jitters in the crowd at Crisler, and a missed front-end of a one-and-one from Irvin felt like pandemonium waiting to break out.

Four Factors
Michigan Maryland
58 eFG% 50
22 OReb% 35
13 TO% 19
25 FTR 19

Mark Donnal wouldn’t allow it. After getting called for a questionable shooting foul on Stone, who hit two free throws to make it a two-point game, Donnal secured a crucial offensive rebound off a missed layup from Walton with fewer than 20 seconds to play. Walton corrected his mistake by calling a heads-up timeout to secure an inbounds play, which went to Donnal, who immediately was sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity of his own. For all those free throws stood for, Donnal remained calm.

“Basically I just gotta focus on making it. You shoot free throws every day in practice and I basically just shut everything out.”

He hit the all-important first free throw and missed the second, but was able to play good enough defense on Sulaimon in the closing seconds off a defensive switch that the Duke transfer couldn’t hit a tying three.

Michigan held on and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Irvin, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 14 shots and made three of his seven triples, was the star of the night, while Walton’s 12 points all seemed to come at the perfect time despite a poor shooting night inside. Duncan Robinson chipped in with what’s becoming a routine game of five triples to help him pour in 17.

Without LeVert, taking down Maryland seemed like a very tall task. But the defense and distance shooting were just good enough to slay the giant.

That defense, which struggled against an array of bigs from Mark Turgeon’s team, limited star Maryland point guard Melo Trimble to two points on seven shots and forced four turnovers from the First Team All-Big Ten lead man. Perhaps more impressive, however, was the Wolverines’ ability to keep Trimble off the free throw line, where he does plenty of damage. It was just the fifth time in his career that the sophomore did not get a single freebie attempt. Equally impressive was Michigan’s defense on Sulaimon, who needed 10 shots to reach eight points despite being one of the best shooters in the country.

Irvin in particular came up huge offensively with an array of mid-range jumpers, threes, and a few assists as well, prompting Maryland coach Mark Turgeon to call him “unguardable”, and helping him continue to forget about his shooting struggles in the non-conference season.

Asked about where his confidence stands now, Irvin admitted, “I had a little rough patch at the beginning of the season, but I definitely think it’s coming back, especially beating Maryland tonight was huge for us,” as he cracked a smile.

It’s hard to understate the importance of just how huge it indeed was. The Wolverines had a handful of decent wins before turning the calendar to the New Year, but none was of the hat-hanger variety.

Now, they have one locked up in their back pockets.

Another opportunity is right around the corner with a difficult road trip to Iowa City coming this weekend. For now, though, the Wolverines can take a breath and smile. The season has begun.

Quick Hitters

• I thought this was the best Michigan has played as a team in any real game this season. Without LeVert, multiple players needed to step up – and they did just that. In addition to the three stars, I thought that Rahk played within his game despite only posting five points, Donnal had another solid, if unspectacular, performance, and Aubrey Dawkins played spot minutes and got a couple momentous buckets in 12 minutes of action.

Rahk was also tremendous on defense, and his four assists tied a career high. On one fast break, he did an excellent job of cutting to the middle of the floor as soon as he saw Duncan Robinson wide open on the wing, which served to give him a better passing angle that he used perfectly to record a beautiful dime. In a similar fast-break opportunity, Derrick Walton could have found a slasher or Robinson open on the wing and instead bumbled his way right into the defense to give the Terps a fast break the other way.

Additionally, Donnal kept up his solid play. He’s clearly the best option at the five on both ends of the floor right now, and he’s finishing inside better than he ever has before. I was surprised to see him miss two open threes (that was really his forte in high school), but his effort on the glass was spectacular against a ferocious frontline. At the end of the first half, he had a sequence in which he blocked two sure-thing Maryland layups that erased four points and then got his fingers on a tip-in at the buzzer to give Michigan an eight-point lead at the break.

• Against Maryland’s tall and big front line, Beilein said he inserted three different double-down packages into the game plan to help Irvin, Robinson, and Donnal deal with their matchups, but the Wolverines got confused as to who to double-down on at different times, so they eventually scrapped the plan and went all man-to-man down low.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
22 points (5-of-7 2pt, 3-of-7 3pt, 3-of-6 FT), three assists, two rebounds, two steals, one turnover in 37 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
12 points (1-of-6 2pt, 3-of-7 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), 10 rebounds (one offensive), four assists, one steal, two turnovers in 38 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
17 points (1-of-1 2pt, 5-of-9 3pt), one rebound, one assist, one steal, one turnover in 35 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Duncan Robinson – 13
Derrick Walton – 10
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Zak Irvin – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 2
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 3-7 0-3 2-3 3 6 9 4 8 0 0 2 2 33
10 Derrick Walton* 4-13 3-7 1-2 1 9 10 1 12 4 2 0 1 38
21 Zak Irvin* 8-14 3-7 3-6 0 2 2 1 22 3 1 0 2 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 6-10 5-9 0-0 0 1 1 3 17 1 1 0 1 35
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 2-3 1-1 0-0 1 2 3 1 5 4 1 0 0 34
03 Kam Chatman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-2 2-2 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 0 5
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-4 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 0 4 0 0 0 1 12
32 Ricky Doyle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 25-53 12-29 8-13 7 20 27 12 70 12 8 4 7 200
Maryland 26-58 6-24 9-11 11 25 36 16 67 8 12 2 3 200
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
Beilein vs Maryland

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan hoops preview: Maryland

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Michigan vs #3 Maryland
Tuesday, Jan. 12 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 9 p.m. EST | ESPN
78.7 Points/gm 78.4
(457-913) 50.1 Field Goal % 50.9 (441-866)
(174-408) 42.6 3-pt FG % 38.6 (129-334)
(171-237) 72.2 Free Throw % 75.8 (244-322)
10.7 FT Made/gm 15.3
33.1 Reb/gm 35.9
16.5 Assists/gm 14.8
9.9 Turnovers/gm 13.3
62.6 Points/gm 63.6
(360-873) 41.2 Field Goal % 40.9 (380-930)
(111-314) 35.4 3-pt FG % 31.0 (99-319)
31.6 Opp. Reb/gm 29.4
6.1 Steals/gm 6.1
2.4 Blocks/gm 5.3
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (11.8) Points/gm Melo Trimble (14.8), Diamond Stone (13.1)
Caris LeVert (5.4), Derrick Walton (5.2) Reb/gm Robert Carter (6.9), Diamond Stone (5.4)

Coming off its first conference loss of the season, Michigan returns home for a date with the best team in the Big Ten Tuesday night. Since a close road loss to North Carolina on Dec. 1, Maryland has won nine straight games heading into its first trip to the Crisler Center.

Last season, Michigan lost its only matchup with the Terrapins, a 66-56 final in College Park. Now the Wolverines face an even greater test as the No. 3 team in America comes to town.

Here are three thoughts on Tuesday night’s matchup.

1. Efficiency is the key

Basketball fans who tune into the Michigan-Maryland game are sure to see plenty of made baskets. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the country in shooting percentage, Michigan shooting 50.1 percent and Maryland shooting 50.9 percent.

Fortunately for Maryland, the Terps’ shooting is better distributed throughout their roster. Each of Maryland’s top five scorers shoots over 48 percent and averages more than 10 points per game. Michigan will need a great shooting night from Duncan Robinson, who makes 55.7 percent of his three-point shots, to combat Maryland’s depth.

Diamond Stone and Robert Carter will prove especially troublesome for Michigan, which has yet to establish an inside presence this season. Stone and Carter combine to average about 25 points and 12 rebounds per game. If Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal can’t somehow rise to the occasion, John Beilein’s defense will be in big trouble.

2. No Caris, no problem…for Maryland

There’s really no way to sugarcoat it: Caris LeVert’s absence is a crippling blow to Michigan on both ends of the court. The senior leader averages 17.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, all tops on the Wolverine roster.

Even if Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin accept greater offensive roles, they can’t fill the void left by LeVert’s injury.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is playing his best basketball to lessen that blow. He scored 39 points in two road games without LeVert, shooting over 65 percent from the floor and committing zero turnovers. MAAR looked like the odd man out of the rotation early in the season, but LeVert’s injury seems to have given him new life. He’ll be a major X-factor, especially on defense, against Maryland’s electric backcourt.

If Michigan knocks off a loaded Maryland team without its best player, it’ll be one of Beilein’s most impressive single-game coaching jobs at Michigan.

3. The clock is ticking

The Big Ten season just started, and Michigan is on a much better track than last season, but it’s nearing danger time for a team without a single eye-catching win on its resume.

Michigan’s back-to-back wins over Texas and N.C. State added some substance to its resume heading toward the new year, but now those wins look far less impressive. Texas lost three of its last four games and sits at just 9-6 on the season. Meanwhile, N.C. State is dead last in the ACC after losing three straight games and falling to 10-6.

The Wolverines don’t have any bad losses, but they haven’t been remotely competitive against tournament competition. In four games against would-be tournament teams (assuming SMU would make the field if it was eligible), Michigan has lost by a total of 71 points. Three of those games were over before the halfway point of the 2nd half.

Tuesday night offers another chance to earn a statement win for Michigan. Maryland is coming off an emotional buzzer-beating win, Michigan is coming off a blowout loss and it’s a Tuesday night game in Ann Arbor. If there was ever a time to pull an upset, tonight is the night for the Wolverines.

If it falls short once again, Michigan will fall to 0-5 in its five toughest games and miss another opportunity to boost its resume. Sunday’s road game in Iowa City pins even more importance on tonight’s game, as Michigan doesn’t want to flirt with a three-game losing streak that would largely sink any distant thoughts about conference contention.

Tuesday’s circumstances suggest to a possible upset for Michigan, but without LeVert, and without any evidence that the Wolverines can hang with elite teams, I expect it to be Maryland’s night.