What looked like a possibility to become the biggest win of Michigan coach John Beilein’s short tenure in Ann Arbor turned from hopeful to almost hopeless in a matter of moments.
Forward Ekpe Udoh connected with sophomore DeShawn Sims on a nifty backdoor cut to make it a two-point contest with eight minutes remaining in last night’s game against Boston College.
For more than 30 minutes, the Wolverines played neck-and-neck with the Eagles (6-0), but, in just a few minutes, the close game became a memory in last night’s 77-64 loss at Crisler Arena in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
During that stretch, Boston College went on 12-0 run as Michigan (3-4) committed two turnovers, made numerous mental mistakes and were outrebounded 5-0 – including two offensive rebounds by Boston College.
“We had two or three (bad) mental breakdowns of just almost ‘I’ve gotta fix it all now,’ ” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “All of a sudden, we just get this quick turnaround, taking chances on steals, taking a quick shot when you’re really guarded. I think it’s just things of guys wanting to win but not staying solid at this time.”
After Boston College’s Tyrese Rice, who tallied a game-high 28 points, hit a jumper to start the run, freshman Manny Harris launched an inbounds pass past midcourt that was intercepted.
Udoh committed a foul on the ensuing possession that sent Boston College freshman Biko Paris to free-throw line. Paris made the first and missed the second. Luckily for the Eagles, Eagle freshman Corey Raji grabbed the board and made the putback.
The run came to an end after a missed Michigan 3-pointer later and two Eagle lay-ups off nice basket cuts.
“When stuff like that happens, you just got to be mentally tough and fight through it,” sophomore K’Len Morris said.
Michigan continued to fight to the end but couldn’t make the big shot or create the defensive stop to put it in striking distance.
Realizing it has much to learn, the young team pointed to inexperience as the difference in the game. On paper, Boston College starting three underclassmen doesn’t look much different than Michigan’s four starting underclassmen.
But he Eagles return five players who averaged more than 12 minutes per game last season.
“A lot of us (young) guys are coming in and having to play four quarters of basketball, and it’s tough for us,” freshman Kelvin Grady said. “We just lacked focus, lacked experience.”
Some of that lack of experience came on the boards. While Boston College held a dominate advantage in that department, 50-32, it was the few occasions when the Eagles pulled down offensive rebounds from free throws that stood out to Beilein.
“There was great teaching points tonight for the future,” Beilein said.