It was probably after the Michigan men’s basketball team took a 13-0 lead in the first six and a half minutes of its 60-46 victory over Iowa that it became official: The Wolverines had definitely put the soul-crushing loss to Michigan State on Jan. 26 behind them.

“It’s been a long three days,” sophomore Stu Douglass said after the win on Saturday. “There was a sour taste in our mouths a little bit. We just tried to come out and leave everything behind.”

After the loss to the Spartans, Michigan coach John Beilein told his team to forget about the season’s previous 20 games and focus solely on the 10 games in front of them. He urged the Wolverines (4-5 Big Ten, 11-10 overall) to look at the remaining games as a season in and of itself.

“It’s just a whole new season,” Beilein said. “We put our season out there and use the etch-a-sketch. A new etch-a-sketch.”

Aggressive, in-your-face defense was the key to Michigan’s early 13-0 run against Iowa, consistent with the kind of defense the team has been playing of late, especially against Wisconsin and Michigan State, both of which had real trouble scoring against the Wolverines.

The difference in this game was that Iowa (2-7, 8-14) had neither the moxie nor the personnel to reciprocate, which allowed the Wolverines to take advantage of scoring opportunities that weren’t there in their previous three games.

At the end of the first half, all five of Michigan’s starters scored, and senior DeShawn Sims led the team with 11. Junior Manny Harris followed him with seven points.

In both the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half the Wolverines fell into the common trap of playing down to their level of competition. Play at times was sloppy, with players seeming to treat the matchup as a glorified pickup game.

But after seeing the lead fall to just 13 with 14:44 remaining, Michigan got its act together. Sims got whatever he wanted inside, including nine offensive rebounds and 20 points for the game. Harris also turned it on, scoring 13 of his own 20 points in the second half.

The lead in the second half was as much as 24, but the Wolverines again seemed to lose their focus at the end, when they let Iowa pull to within 16 with three minutes left.

Though Beilein was happy with the big win, he would have preferred to avoid the sloppy play that plagued his team throughout the game.

“I think they felt the game was out of hand,” Beilein said. “And that’s natural when you’re up that much. I would have liked to get everybody off the bench, but 14-point, 16-point lead with three minutes to go is not safe.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.