How do you strike fear in the hearts of Michigan men’s basketball fans?

Show them Utah’s starting five.

Marshall Henderson, 6-foot-2. Carlon Brown, 6-foot-5. Luka Drca, 6-foot-5. Kim Tillie, 6-foot-11. David Foster, 7-foot-3.

The average height of Michigan’s starting five, on the other hand, is about 6-foot-5. At 6-foot-8, senior Deshawn Sims is Michigan’s tallest starter.

The Wolverines haven’t had a legitimate seven-footer since Josh Moore, a 7-foot-2 center who was dismissed from the team in 2002, and that’s stretching the definition of “legitimate.” Size has been an issue since Michigan coach John Beilein arrived, but it’s in games against teams like Utah that the difference will be very apparent.

“They’re huge,” Beilein said. “Skilled players, they got some guys back from a team that was very good last year. We will not see size like this the entire year.”

And the Wolverines are lucky for that. Utah’s size in the paint only accentuates Michigan’s need to find a little luck from the 3-point line. The Wolverines haven’t shot above 30 percent from beyond the arc since they played Creighton in the first game of the Old Spice Classic on Nov. 26.

Vexingly, two of the team’s best pure shooters have struggled the most — sophomores Stu Douglass and Zack Novak. The two have shot a combined 21 percent from the 3-point line in the last four games.

Redshirt sophomore Laval Lucas-Perry has been the team’s only consistent long-range threat, shooting 40 percent for the season.

“I’ve never really experienced something like this before,” Douglass said. “It’s a little new, but I guess we’ll see (tonight).”

Fortunately for the Wolverines, Beilein has experienced this before — and survived.

In the 2005 season while coaching at West Virginia, his team hit a slump after getting blown out in a game against Villanova. The Mountaineers went ice-cold and limped into the NCAA Tournament, but recovered and advanced to the Elite Eight.

“You go through (shooting slumps), and you try to just get through them,” Beilein said. “But you’re not very pretty when you don’t have those things going.”

At least one player’s 3-pointer seems to be improving. Junior Manny Harris, who has shot 21 percent from the 3-point line thus far, began to bolster his dismal season from behind the arc in the Wolverines’ last game, when he shot 3-of-4.

If Michigan’s shooters can find their rhythm early against the Utes, it would take some of the pressure off of Sims, who will be walking in the land of giants down low.

Against such height, Sims could have a hard time establishing himself as a threat in the post. But Beilein said that tonight, Sims’ versatility could be an advantage.

“It depends on what they give us,” Beilein said. “DeShawn has been able to score on big guys at times … whether he’s scoring inside or from 15 feet or at the three, it’s good that he’s versatile.”

The recent shooting woes have also prompted players to work on other weaknesses in their game. Douglass, for his part, has been working on his assist-to-turnover ratio.

“I’m definitely trying to make up in other aspects,” Douglass said. “I’ve been trying to distribute the ball more and not turn it over as much.”

Douglass has 17 assists this year compared to just three turnovers, marking an improvement from last year. And if he, and the rest of the team, can manage to get their 3-point shooting numbers up, they may be able to sneak out of Utah with a win.

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