Everyone knew Michigan would miss Trey Burke this year. Games like this are the ones that really hammer that point home.
Michigan looked good moving the ball and brought unprecedented length to defense, making life hard on Iowa State all game long. But as Michigan put together a couple runs to bury the Cys, Iowa State continued to fight back. Where Michigan had Trey Burke in the past to stem the tide and regain control of the game, in this one there was no steadying hand. As leads slipped and ISU made run after run to cut into and then build the lead, Michigan had no one to turn to.
That isn't to say that Michigan played poorly. The offense lacks a go to scorer and it shows. Glenn Robinson III still cannot create his own shot. He scored 12 points on 14 shots and notched only one assist. Caris LeVert started off hot but soon couldn;t get to the basket. He finished 2 of 9 for 5 points.
Nik Stauskas was Michigan's biggest scoring threat, and his 20 points came on drives to the basket and deadeye shots from outside.
Mitch McGary made his first appearance of the season and provided quite a spark at times. He finished the game with nine points, six rebounds, and four steals. He was an agent of chaos, but he wasn't as good as Iowa State's own injured big, Melvin Ejim, who had 22 points and nine rebounds.
Part of the issue was that the outside shots weren't falling. Michigan hit just 8 of 29 from outside. The bigger issue was that Michigan was forced into so many outside shots, unable to find one player to step in and be a go-to scorer when it was most needed.
This isn't a bad loss. ISU is a good team and played well. Michigan showed some of its youth an lack of a go-to offensive presence when it needed it most. The last two years this team had Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to close games like these out. Finding someone to step up and replace that isn't going to be easy. Glenn Robinson seems to have spent the summer studying at the Milford School as he is neither seen nor heard from for long stretches, and Caris LeVert went cold in this one. With neither of those two able to take over the scoring load, Michigan didn't have the nail-in-coffin ability that it needed, nor the stop-the-bleeding ability that would be required late.
On the bright side, Mitch McGary was back and impactful, and Nik Stauskas looks like he has taken the strides expected of him.
A bumpy start to the season was always possible. How this team grows from here will be the most important part of tonight's loss.