The Michigan Wolverines (11-6, 2-4 B1G) went on the road again in a Big Ten bout against the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-5, 4-3 B1G), but were unable to walk out victors and lost by a score of 90-83.
Isaiah Livers missed his fifth-straight game with a groin injury, but did warmup with the team prior to the contest. Eli Brooks led the Wolverines with 25 points on the night, while Franz Wagner had 18. Iowa’s Luka Garza had another massive performance, tallying 33 points on the evening after having 44 points in the 103-91 Michigan win at Crisler on Dec. 6.
Michigan got off to a nice start in this one in the first half, but the Hawkeyes would use an 18-2 run to pull ahead and take a 47-43 lead into the locker room over the Wolverines. Ineffective lineup combinations, untimely shots and some frustrating officiating would be what cost Michigan in this game, but they were still in it right until the very end and had a real shot to pull this one off.
The Wolverines would lead by as much as seven points in the second half, but the Hawkeyes would end the game on a 22-9 run in similar fashion to what happened at Minnesota the other day and the Wolverines would fall in the rematch.
- This and Sunday’s game feel like ones that they would win with Isaiah Livers in the lineup. He warmed up with the team on Friday night, but is not quite there yet. They’ll try again with him on Wednesday.
- Eli Brooks and Franz Wagner were terrific. Brooks has struggled for the last month or so, but he was confident and in control during this game, finding his stroke from outside. Having him back on track for this upcoming stretch of games could be huge, as is Wagner’s continued development into a great young player and someone who is starting to look a heck of a lot like his older brother in terms of on-court persona.
- This team plays hard for Juwan Howard and he knows how to push the right buttons to get them good opportunities on the court and have them keep their mental composure. With that said, this was not a banner night for his lineup combinations and also showed a lack of depth that the Wolverines are dealing with in certain spots. Not having Livers on the court does not help, but Austin Davis had a rough go of it and had to play down the stretch when Brandon Johns fouled out. Michigan could have gone to David DeJulius in that situation wit the three-guard lineup and Wagner at the four. Because Michigan went size-for-size with Iowa, they kind of hurt their chances here because the talent of their bigs (including Jon Teske) is not as good as what Iowa threw out there with Garza and Ryan Krieder. Aside from that, Adrien Nunez and Colin Castleton are basically non-factors right now. It was a tough spot to be in, but what they ran with tonight just was not working.
- Zavier Simpson (7 points, 6 assists) had a quiet night. Nothing he did good or bad stood out in particular, but you probably need more out of him to win a game like this.
- Big Ten officiating is a hot pile of garbage. Not like, burning paper and plastic garbage. We’re talking “week-old food, soiled diapers and sewage on fire” garbage. It’s not why they lost, but it certainly did not help. It can’t be ignored, either. I don’t know if there’s some edict across the league to officiate in favor of home teams to build some sort of “welp it’s tough to win on the road in the Big Ten” brand, but this is not just happening to Michigan. This is a league-wide issue and it’s resulting in a season of parity and great competition being derailed by officiating. That’s a huge bummer.
Next up for Michigan is a home game against Penn State on Wednesday. The schedule starts to lighten up a bit for them, as they play only one true road game (at Nebraska) between now and Feb. 12. Time to get rolling.