IOWA CITY — After a terrible first half on Wednesday against Northwestern, it would’ve been hard to imagine the Michigan men’s basketball team playing a worse first half all season. But the Wolverines did just that in Iowa.

Michigan couldn’t find any rhythm on the offensive end, even before freshman point guard Trey Burke took a seat for the last 13 minutes of the half after picking up his second foul. The struggles continued into the second half, when the Wolverines could never sustain momentum, eventually falling 75-59 to the Hawkeyes, remaining winless in true road games this season.

Michigan shot just 25.8 percent (8-for-31) from 3-point range.

“We just did not do what you have to do on the road in that half,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “I think being down by 10 at half and then having to come back on the road, that was going to be tough.

“We really had some good looks that we needed to hit to make some things different. And then what we’ve been able to do, when we weren’t shooting well — like Northwestern — we got second possessions. We didn’t get many second possessions today.”

Burke was the Wolverines’ only offense early on, leading Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 14-4 overall) with just six first-half points as the Wolverines sputtered to a 33-23 deficit at halftime.

Senior guard Zack Novak kept the Wolverines in the game early in the second half, knocking down two 3-pointers, and a Tim Hardaway Jr. layup plus a free throw drew Michigan within six with just under 13 minutes left in the game. But the Hawkeyes surged ahead for 10 straight points, highlighted by a two-hand slam from Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe that ignited the crowd, forcing Beilein to call a timeout.

When Novak finally ended the run with his third 3-pointer of the half, it halted a span of 4:58 in which the Wolverines were held without a point.

Michigan finally found second-half momentum with just under six minutes to play, when senior guard Stu Douglass capped a 7-2 Wolverine run that pulled them within 12 points, prompting Iowa coach Fran McCaffery to take a timeout.

The Hawkeyes (3-3, 11-8) missed a shot right out of the break, but Iowa’s Zach McCabe was able to corral the miss — which had found its way to half court — by out-diving junior guard Matt Vogrich. Moments later, Iowa’s Matt Gatens connected on a 3-pointer to put Iowa ahead by 15, essentially clinching the game.

“That was the play,” McCaffery said. “We got that effort the whole game, but in a situation like that, I look at that like a five-point play, because that loose ball was at the (half-court) line. If they get it, they’re going to go lay it up. We get it, throw it to Matt, it’s a three.

“I told Zach, ‘That’s a play being made by somebody who expects to win, not someone who hopes to win.’ ”

Gatens tied for a game-high in points with 19, thanks largely to four 3-pointers.

It was McCabe who set the tone for the Hawkeyes from the get-go, scoring the game’s first six points and finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Burke got Michigan on the board — after more than three -and-a-half scoreless minutes — with a 3-pointer and followed up an Iowa 2-point basket with another long-range bomb.

The Wolverines were again marred by porous first-half shooting. After shooting 28.1 percent against the Wildcats earlier in the week, Michigan connected on just 18.8 percent (3-of-16) of its 3-pointers on Saturday.

Hardaway Jr. was fairly absent in the first half, scoring just three points, finishing the game with nine. Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz couldn’t find his way out of a recent funk, missing all six of his field-goal attempts and being held scoreless for the first time this season.

“There’s no formula (to shooting better),” Beilein said of Smotrycz. “He’s going to practice hard, he’s going to get better, but it’s like a hitter that all of a sudden is hitting the ball right at the shortstop, right at the centerfielder and it happens in basketball. You go through these things and there’s no magic formula except work it out.”

Hardaway Jr. put the Wolverines ahead at the halfway point of the first half with a free throw, but Iowa reserve Josh Oglesby came off the bench and scored seven consecutive points for the Hawkeyes, who entered halftime leading, 33-23, thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by Devyn Marble.

Burke finished with 19 points — most of them coming late in the second half, while Novak finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, despite being in foul trouble for much of the second half. Though Burke still had a good stat-line, the freshman is yet to win a true road test.

“I wouldn’t even say it’s the crowd, really,” Burke said. “When they made their run, we were calm when we were in the huddle. … The visiting team feeds off the crowd and they hit some big shots. It’s just the home-court advantage, I guess. We have it at home. We just have to continue to learn so we can get some big wins on the road.”

Michigan now has just three days to bounce back from this loss and prepare for Tuesday’s matchup with Michigan State, who might be ranked in the top-5 in next week’s rankings.

“Where we always grow (is) from film sessions after victory,” Beilein said. “It’s not a love-fest after you get wins. But it is a lot of teaching moments, as well. After defeats, (it’s the) same thing. We’re still going to teach, but it hits home a little bit harder when they see that they can play better. And they will.”

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