Call it sluggish, call it sloppy, call it sleepwalking.

Paul Wong
LaVell Blanchard, despite not starting to make room for freshman Chuck Bailey, came through big time, scoring eight points in the last four minutes. <br><br>DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily

Or just call it ugly.

Instead of trading baskets, Michigan and Penn State traded traveling violations, five-second calls and errant passes on Saturday turning a Big Ten basketball contest into an intramural game.

“It certainly wasn”t a work of art for either team,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.

The two teams combined for 14 turnovers in the first seven minutes, with players from each team seemingly affected by the rare 11 a.m. tipoff.

The Wolverines wanted to play early enough so that they could fly out early Saturday evening for their game tonight against Colorado State. Due to television obligations, Michigan could only play at 11 a.m. or 8 p.m.

Penn State finished with 18 turnovers and the Wolverines ended up with 17 marking the fifth time this season Michigan has committed 17 or more turnovers. The last time such a feat occurred was against Duke on Dec. 8.

Michigan senior tri-captain Chris Young said the numerous traveling violations were a result of the players getting “too excited and trying to move too fast and forcing things.”

But it was hard to overlook the awkwardness during an early game.

“It looked like we weren”t even awake for the first couple minutes,” Michigan guard Gavin Groninger said.

The Wolverines even stayed at a hotel Friday night to stick with their routine, and Amaker said that there was “lights out, televisions off by 11:30 p.m.”

High altitude: The Wolverine”s next road trip is definitely out of the ordinary. Michigan continues its horrific stretch of four games in seven days, which began with Thursday night”s game with Illinois. Tonight”s nonconference battle with Colorado State was originally scheduled for winter break, but after Michigan committed to the Pete Newell Challenge in California on Dec. 29, it had to make adjustments to the next available time.

Winning on the road is never easy for the Wolverines, as they have just two victories away from Crisler Arena in the last 382 days.

Michigan has one day of preparation for tonight”s game because it landed in the high altitude of Fort Collins, Colo. late Saturday night. After facing the Rams, the Wolverines will quickly leave for Purdue they take on the Boilermakers at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“I don”t think I”ve ever been through a stretch like this,” said Groninger, who mentioned that practices have been shorter and less physical due to the packed schedule.

The Wolverines will miss three days of class before returning on Thursday.

Sparty time: Michigan is due to play Michigan State just once next season. The two teams could arrange a nonconference meeting, but Michigan Associate Athletic Director Warde Manuel said that all but two nonconference games are slotted already. Michigan has two difficult road tests in the fall, with trips to UCLA and Duke. Another road game in the Breslin Center doesn”t seem to be a high priority.

“We”re not going to schedule it where we have to go back up (to East Lansing),” Manuel said. “It”s not something we like. But from our standpoint, unless something different happens, we”re not going to (schedule another game).”

G money: After not playing at all against Illinois on Thursday, Gavin Groninger saw just three minutes of action against Penn State. The junior was forced to watch emerging former walk-on Herb Gibson and freshman Dommanic Ingerson take most of the minutes at the shooting guard position.

“It is tough,” said Groninger, who has made just four of his last 30 shots. “But other people have been playing pretty well. I just have to fight through it and I”m sure it will come back.”

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