IOWA CITY — As Iowa started to pull away from the No. 13 Michigan basketball team, Trey Burke could only watch.
The freshman point guard spent 13 minutes on the bench in the first half and the Hawkeyes took advantage, forcing turnovers, bad shots and sloppy offense from Michigan.
When Burke drove to the basket six minutes into the game, he lost control of his momentum and was called for a charge. It was his second foul of the game and Michigan coach John Beilein pulled him for senior guard Stu Douglass.
“I missed the first foul, actually,” Beilein said. “I was taking him out because I thought he had one on him and he had two.”
After the Wolverines took a brief lead, their offense began to stall. They looked out of sorts with Burke on the bench. The evenly matched game soon became one-sided and Michigan’s chances of picking up its first true road win of the season diminished.
The two-point Wolverine deficit when Burke left was taken out ballooned to ten by halftime.
“I think we could have gotten out of that better,” Beilein said. “We took a couple hope threes and threw a couple hope passes. The eight turnovers in the first half, they weren’t because we didn’t have our point guard. Although we missed him.”
Burke, who knocked down consecutive 3-pointers in the opening minutes, said he expected to re-enter the game with two or three minutes left in the half, but Beilein held him out until after the break.
“It was definitely hard,” Burke said. “Just watching my team play out there without me. That’s what you go through when you have two fouls. Coach told me to just be ready, stay in tune with the game, talk from the bench, be a leader from the bench.”
Maybe the eight turnovers weren’t because of Burke’s absence, but they might have been because of the people replacing him.
The Wolverines lack a true point guard outside of Burke, and Douglass and junior Eso Akunne struggled to create offense in his stead. Neither Douglass nor Akunne penetrated successfully and a couple possessions consisted of Michigan passing the ball around the perimeter for much of the shot clock before a forced shot attempt.
Beilein said that he planned to sit Burke unless the Hawkeye lead hit double digits, but Iowa waited until the first-half buzzer to do that when Devyn Marble connected on a jumper.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery supported Beilein’s decision to bench Burke for the half.
“He’s too valuable to that team,” McCaffery said. “They couldn’t risk him getting three (fouls). It wasn’t a huge lead. For him to be able to get you home in the second half like he’s done, he’s got to be able to play his game and you can’t do that in foul trouble.”
By time Burke came back onto the court, Iowa was up 10 and on its way to an easy win. Michigan threatened briefly, cutting the lead to six, but Iowa broke it back open with a 10-0 run.
“It was definitely hard to come back in the second half, get your groove,” Burke said.