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Michigan 56, Maryland 66: Not in the Zone

Despite some pyrotechnics from Michigan's high-flying freshmen, scoring droughts once again cost them, this time on the road at Maryland.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

It all started with a slam, but that's not how it finished.

Aubrey Dawkins stole the ball, went the other way and sent one home with authority, giving Michigan a 2-0 lead.

But that moment of authority was short-lived, as a Maryland coup in the form of a 7-0 run put the Wolverines behind it early. Another Maryland run late in the first half put Michigan behind again. This time, they weren't able to overcome it in the second half, as the offense and the 1-3-1 faltered en route to a 66-56 defeat, dropping Michigan to 14-14 (7-9) on the season.

Luckily for John Beilein and Co., however, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was active early, with three points and four boards in the first six minutes. Michigan responded to Maryland's early 7-0 run with a 7-0 run of its own (despite an 0-for-5 start from beyond the arc).

Paced by small contributions from six players, the Wolverines battled hard against No. 14 Maryland, but Abdur-Rahkman picked up his second foul at 12:27, sending him to the bench and depriving Michigan of one its dribble-drive threats. It was 9-7, Michigan, at that point.

The close of the half was a retelling of a familiar story: join me around the campfire to hear the now actually not so scary and fairly prosaic tale of the Michigan Drought of 2015.

With the game at 21-all with 2:48 remaining in the half, Maryland launched a 12-0 run to enter the half up, 30-21. The Terps accomplished that with Melo Trimble shooting just 1-for-5 in the first half, too.

After a rough first half from three (1-for-9), Michigan needed to find its groove. They did that early in the second, as Irvin buried a triple, Abdur-Rahkman smoothly swished a two-pointer and Ricky Doyle finished at the rim (after missing the bunny at first).

The Wolverines didn't appear ready to go down without a fight, at least early in the half. But against a Maryland squad with Trimble and an interior force like Dez Wells, Michigan needed more, some sort of spark.

Remember Abdur-Rahkman? After falling prey to the first half auto-bench, he reintroduced himself to the proceedings by romping down the lane to posterize Maryland's Jake Layman. In layman's terms, that means he dunked all over him (I'll show myself out now).

Michigan cut the lead to six, 43-37, after Irvin buried a trio of free throws when Wells fouled him in the act of shooting. Albrecht cut it to three with a triple from Washington D.C., but Maryland's Trimble answered with a three of his own.

The 1-3-1, however, burned the Wolverines on numerous occasions. Layman buried an open corner three against it, then, on the next possession, Trimble drove and dished to an open Wells in the corner, who connected to extend Maryland's lead to 12 with 3:34 to play.

Despite a couple of late threes from Irvin and Albrecht, Michigan didn't have nearly enough to make a serious comeback.

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said this season. The Wolverines, young and undermanned, fought hard on the road against a top 15 Maryland squad, but a scoring drought to close the first half was essentially the end of it.

Then, with the Wolverines looking to make a comeback in the second half, they couldn't edge closer than six; the offense did not come easily, and Maryland handled the Wolverines' 1-3-1 with relative ease.

With that said, despite all that has happened, two winnable games remain on the schedule: at Northwestern on Tuesday (for which I'll be in attendance) and Rutgers back at the Crisler Center. Win those, and, somehow, Michigan finishes the regular season with a .500 conference record.

It isn't much, but it's something.

Irvin and Albrecht led the Wolverines with 15 points apiece. Michigan shot 36.5 percent from the field (23.8 percent from three), while Maryland shot 44.7 percent from the field (50 percent from three).

For Maryland, Trimble finished with 19 after a slow start, while the senior Wells dropped 13 points and six boards.

Michigan heads to Evanston on Tuesday for a rematch with a Wildcats squad on a four-game winning streak*. The last time the Wildcats won four straight Big Ten games, Lyndon B. Johnson was in the Oval Office.

It won't be easy, but a road win would be a nice thing for this young squad as the regular season comes to a close.


*NB: Completely forgot Northwestern was playing today at Illinois...they lost, 86-60, so the Wildcats won't be carrying a winning streak into Tuesday's game. FWIW.