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What Juwan Howard, Eli Brooks said after blowout loss at North Carolina

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Wolverines fall to 4-3 after 72-51 loss in Chapel Hill.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It was another rough night for the Michigan Wolverines as they fell on the road to the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-51. The game drew some similarities to Michigan’s last blowout loss against Arizona. Michigan was able to hang around in the first half, and even had a five-point lead late in that half, but looked out of sorts both offensively and defensively in an abysmal second half.

Hunter Dickinson had one of his toughest games yet as a Wolverine. The star sophomore finished with just four points and only played 18 minutes after sitting most of the second half because of foul trouble. It’s tough to win games, especially on the road, without your best player.

“We missed one of our best players,” head coach Juwan Howard said after the game. “He went out with four fouls, from there, North Carolina really took advantage. Scoring inside the paint, freebies, there were some tough shots like Caleb Love from the outside, gave them a boost. It’s a teachable moment.”

For a lot of the Michigan players, this was their first true road game with fans. Because of the pandemic, no games had fans last year, and a tough road environment can make a big difference in college basketball.

“I can’t really speak for anyone else, but it’s tough to play in an atmosphere, especially when a lot of people haven’t.” Eli Brooks told reporters after the game.

Guys like Hunter Dickinson, Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan have never played in a tough road environment like the one the Wolverines faced in Chapel Hill. As the season goes on, those players will grow and be better in those situations as they get used to it.

One bright spot for the Wolverines was Diabate, especially in the first half. He led all Michigan scorers with 13 points and had 11 in the first half. This was Diabate’s first start, and it looks like he doesn’t want to give up that role.

“He’s a high energy guy, he brought a big spark.” Brooks said.

Howard didn’t seem too concerned with Michigan’s 4-3 start to the season in his postgame presser. Howard understands it is early in the season and believes experiences like this will make the team better in the long run.

“It’s very early,” Howard said. “We’re 4-3, seven games. We haven’t even gotten to the Big Ten season yet. I think this is going to make us a better team, I trust it will. We have a very competitive schedule, and I love our schedule and the type of teams that we’re playing, really good teams. We’re going to get better from this. I trust we will and I know our guys in that locker room, including the staff, have trust built in that we will get better.”

Michigan heads back to Ann Arbor to get ready for its game on Saturday afternoon against the San Diego State Aztecs.