IOWA CITY — With Caris LeVert still sidelined with a lower left leg injury, the Michigan men’s basketball team searched hard for a winning combination against No. 16 Iowa on Sunday. At times, the Wolverines even used redshirt freshman forward D.J. Wilson and true freshman Moritz Wagner — two big men who don’t often see the court, let alone see it at the same time — to get some momentum going after falling into an early 11-0 hole. 
 
Michigan coach John Beilein’s meddling was to no avail, though, and the Hawkeyes (5-0 Big Ten, 14-3 overall) handily beat the Wolverines, 82-71. 
 
“They were the better team than us tonight, without question,” Beilein said. “We fought hard; we had three really bad spurts during the game. At the beginning of the first, three quarters of the way through the first half and three quarters of the way through the second.” 
 
Beilein orchestrated multiple comebacks from Iowa’s spurts, including a 13-0 run in the first half that was a result of lineup changes. 
 
Redshirt sophomore guard Duncan Robinson started Michigan’s (3-2, 13-5) run by driving to the basket rather than hitting his signature 3-pointer. After Robinson led the way, Wagner and sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins followed up with inside layups of their own.
 
The run was accentuated further by back-to-back dunks from Wagner and Wilson.
 
Wagner grabbed a defensive rebound after the Wolverines’ nine-point spurt, gave it to junior guard Derrick Walton and ran to the other side of the court. Meanwhile, Walton dribbled it all the way around the perimeter and passed to Dawkins, who dished it back to Wagner in the paint for a two-handed slam.
 
Dawkins did such a good job with his assist that he was beckoned over to the sideline with the clock still running to give Beilein a hug.
 
The play was part of a vital 13-0 run that gave Michigan a one-point lead, 21-20, with 8:11 left in the first half. The lineup for a majority of the run included Walton, sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Dawkins, Wilson and Wagner. 
 
“The length that we tried to get to get a bigger hand up on a few of their guys, but they ended up going with four or five shooters out there,” Beilein said. “We’re just trying to find ways to get D.J. on the floor.”
 
Added junior forward Mark Donnal: “Overall, I think they did a good job of playing their role,” Donnal said. “We run (Wilson and Wagner) at that position during practice all the time. It’s not something that we’re not used to seeing, but I guess in games you don’t necessarily see it (often).”
 
Michigan started off the second half with a Robinson 3-pointer less than a minute in. Robinson jumpstarted a 13-6 run at the start of the second that led Michigan to regain a lead after heading into halftime down 38-33.
 
Abdur-Rahkman proved he could work the inside against the Hawkeyes in the second frame, consistently breaking through the zone and laying the ball in while still under the net — sometimes while in reverse and without looking — but also proved himself as a perimeter threat. A little less than four minutes into the second half, he stepped back and hit a three to put Michigan within one point of the Hawkeyes, 47-46.
 
“We saw how deflated (previous opponents’ runs) looked or felt,” Walton said. “We really wanted to make that adjustment that even though teams are gonna make runs, don’t hang your head, the game is full of runs. Today, Iowa made their run and nobody on this team watched. We were just really eager to make the next play for our teammates.” 
 
But after the spurt at the start of the second half, it was hard to keep up with the Hawkeyes. Beilein tried the combo of Wagner and Wilson again, along with Walton, Dawkins and junior forward Zak Irvin, but fault lines were more noticeable this time around.
 
Ten minutes into the second half, a ball hovered around the rim, and after Wilson grabbed the offensive rebound, he should have tipped it in but couldn’t. Thirteen seconds later, Beilein pulled Wilson and Wagner. Beilein’s experimenting was over. 
 
The missed tip-in was part of a 12-0 Hawkeye run that stretched over four minutes. It ended when Donnal made a layup, but the game was too far gone. Despite 16 points from Walton and 12 from Dawkins, the Wolverines couldn’t keep up with forward Jarrod Uthoff’s 23 points. 
 
Though the contest in Iowa City was full of small Michigan achievements, moral victories aren’t enough anymore for the Wolverines. 
 
“Of course, we don’t really want to do moral victories, that’s not what we do,” Walton said. “But as a good basketball team in this conference, we gotta pay homage to this team, it’s really good. This three-game stretch to play some of the top teams in this conference, we stood toe-to-toe some stretches, we never let down, but I think we can only get better from this point.”
 

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