We’ve seen this performance before.
After looking good offensively all game long, Michigan couldn’t answer a late-game run and crumbled, losing in overtime in Iowa City, 93-84.
Michigan had a 7-point lead after a Hunter Dickinson tip-in (77-70) with 2:18 left, but it went all downhill from there. Iowa’s Payton Sandfort (26 points, 7 rebounds) had 7 points in the span of 43 seconds to force overtime, where Michigan was outscored, 14-5.
PAYTON SANDFORT’S FOUR POINT PLAY FORCES OVERTIME!!!! pic.twitter.com/hZotNcuyvc— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) January 13, 2023
This is a tough loss for Michigan. It’s their 7th loss in mid-January, which doesn’t bode well for their NCAA tournament chances. And it feels even more painful to pick up their second conference loss knowing they had that game in their grasp but collapsed in the last few minutes.
About a half dozen games into conference play, Michigan and Iowa were 2 of 9 teams within 1.5 games of each other in the Big Ten standings. Entering Thursday’s matchup, the Hawkeyes arguably had their most successful week of the season, beating No. 15 Indiana at home before beating Rutgers in a tough road environment.
Here are some takeaways from the overtime loss.
Jett Howard was ON FIRE, especially in that first half.
We saw the draft buzz surrounding Moussa Diabate pick up last season after he scored 28 in a crucial win in Iowa last season. I have a feeling that draft noise is going to get loud again after Jett’s performance.
He started out the game red-hot, making his first 6 shots and scoring 21 points in the first half, including 11 in the first 5 minutes. He finished this one with a career-high 34 points to go along with shooting 7/13 from three.
You know you’re feeling it when you make a three from the beak of the Hawkeye at center court.
Both he and Kris Murray (27 points) put on a show in that first half, and Jett was the microwave scorer that he was billed as when he arrived at Michigan. He was spectacular, but Iowa pushed him off the three-point line and he only had 3 points (0 field goals) in the final 21 game minutes.
Towards the end of the first half and for parts of the second half, we saw something that we haven’t seen much of from the Wolverines all season: Hunter Dickinson (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Tarris Reed Jr. (2 points, 7 rebounds) sharing the floor.
It wasn’t the greatest fit, and there were a few miscues and miscommunications on defensive rebounds. And late in the game, the spacing on the floor was a nightmare, with them both trying to post in the same area at times.
It’s not a look we need to see a lot of, given the spacing issues and what Michigan gives up from a quickness standpoint on defense. But it was a look that Coach Howard had to run, with Reed Jr. being the only one that could reliably get stops on Murray.
I’d like to see Michigan keep trying to play these two together, just in shorter bursts. Ultimately, crowding the lane and not having Dickinson around the basket much late in this one was pretty costly.
Yet another collapse late in the game
What’s been so frustrating about this Michigan season, as Dickinson has spoken to, is that they rarely ever get blown out. This is their 6th loss by single digits of the season, and in all 6 of those games, Michigan had the chance to win but crumbled on both ends.
They lost this one for a number of reasons: they couldn’t reliably get stops on Murray or Sandfort, they got really stagnant offensively in the second half (and in OT after Bufkin fouled out in OT), and they couldn’t match Iowa’s scoring bursts.
Shots are going to fall for home teams in tight conference games like this, and Michigan’s defense wasn’t terrible throughout this one. What’s frustrating is that this felt like a game the Wolverines could have stolen on the road, and they let it slip through their fingers.
Michigan heads home this weekend for a Noon game on Sunday against the Northwestern Wildcats, who have won 7 of their last 9. After that, they travel to College Park for a rematch with Maryland on Jan. 19 before heading back home to face the last-place Minnesota Golden Gophers at Crisler Center.
We’re getting to the point where Michigan can’t afford to lose, especially in Big Ten games at home. How this young team responds to a tight loss like this will say a lot about them.