Arizona 72, Michigan 70

Submitted by Ace on December 14th, 2013 at 3:48 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

"The devil's in the details," said John Beilein after the game, describing the difficulty of winning against good teams.

For 38 minutes, Michigan did enough of the little things to hold a lead against top-ranked Arizona. They shot the ball well, played tough defense on the interior, and didn't allow an athletic Wildcats squad to get into transition at all. Throughout the game, however, they couldn't keep Arizona from owning the offensive boards, and once they started converting putback opportunities down the stretch the Wolverines couldn't hold on—after scoring just two points off nine first-half offensive rebounds, the Wildcats had six critical second-chance points from their eight second-half opportunities. Boxing out, as it turns out, is a critical detail.

Michigan led by 11 points after the first possession of the second half on the strength of an outstanding performance by Glenn Robinson III (right, Fuller), who had 16 points on a perfect 7/7 mark from the field at halftime. For the first time all season, Robinson consistently created his own offense, beginning with a nifty head fake in the post that led to a layup for his first points of the game. Robinson was a non-factor in the latter stanza, however, adding just three points on 1/2 shooting, and the team managed just 12 points—three on a desperation Spike Albrecht shot with two seconds left—in the final 7:55.

The Wolverines still had their opportunities in the late going. The teams played dramatic back-and-forth basketball in the final couple minutes. After Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's three-point play gave Arizona their first lead since the opening minutes with 2:32 to play, Mitch McGary retook control with a pair of free throws, then Brandon Ashley and Nik Stauskas traded quick baskets. Then, when Michigan looked to have the Wildcats scrambling for a good look, McGary picked up a very questionable touch foul on the perimeter; Arizona's Nick Johnson, who played outstanding defense against Stauskas all afternoon, rattled both free throws home with 24 seconds left.

Michigan then tried pushing it up the court for a quick shot; Stauskas got a decent look at a long two but couldn't get it to fall, and the Wildcats had the possession arrow when McGary tied up Aaron Gordon for the rebound. Johnson sunk another pair of free throws, Albrecht managed just a split after Arizona intentionally fouled him with seven seconds left, and Johnson essentially iced the game with a third consecutive perfect trip to the line. While Albrecht made it interesting with a pull-up three with two seconds left, the last-gasp prayer by Stauskas after a missed Arizona free throw only found backboard.

Despite the loss, there were many encouraging signs for Michigan. Robinson's first half certainly qualified, as did another strong second half from Caris LeVert, who finished second on the team with 15 points on 6/15 shooting, ten of those coming after the break. Jon Horford played 25 strong minutes, tallying four blocks—all in the first half—and throwing down a huge dunk on Gordon for his only points of the game. While Derrick Walton was limited to one point in just 14 minutes, Albrecht ran the offense well, dishing out four assists in addition to hitting three of his four attempts from downtown.

In the end, though, Arizona's size and athleticism simply overwhelmed; seven different Wildcats had an offensive rebound (five with 2+), and the massive front line of Gordon, Brandon Ashley, and Kaleb Tarczewski combined to score 46 points on 21/37 shooting.

"It gives us great confidence," said Beilein, referring to hanging in there against a team he praised highly. "But also an attitude to come back and get better now."

The path to improvement, of course, begins with the details.

Comments

PAproudtoGoBlue

December 15th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

I don't know, maybe.  I think he is one of those guys that needs to come off the bench.  I'm fine with him getting starter type of minutes. It's not often you can bring a guy in to a game that can change the whole flow and Belein knows it and uses that to his advantage. We've had some rocky starts but that has a lot to do with shot selection. Maybe getting him out there at the start would help. I'd rather see the guys that are starting like GRIII pull up from the foul line to get us going early..

marti221

December 15th, 2013 at 1:21 AM ^

I remain hopeful. Last year, we lost quite a few games to really good teams like this. Things just seemed to turn around in March/April. I choose to believe it was because we learned from those big games earlier in the season. Plus, this is by far the best we have looked this year. OPTIMISM!!!! WOOOHOOO!

bronxblue

December 14th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

I was pleasantly surprised by the team today.  I know it was a loss, but this was a squad that needed to show it could hang with the elite teams after that disheartening loss to Duke, and this felt like the type of performance that portends better days in March.  Yes, Robinson disappeared again, but Cavert felt like he took a step forward as a second option, and Mitch looked healthy and solid against elite athletes.  Nik shot reasonably well, though I'm not a fan of that last shot because there was more than enough time on the clock for a better look, but that happens.

A loss is still a loss, but looking at the conference and how this team has performed, it still feels like a top-5 seed team that could definitely make a run with a couple of breaks.  It definitely doesn't look like a team that isn't capable of keeping pace with teams that are "better" than them.

B-Nut-GoBlue

December 14th, 2013 at 5:40 PM ^

Agree on some points.  I think this team showed that they are in fact a pretty good team and have the capabilities to keep up with the best and "better" teams (Arizona, is a very quality team, and I obviously think better, team).  I happen to think also that without any of the wins this non-conference schedule has proven, that the NCAA Tourney isn't a given with the tough, tough Big Ten conference schedule ahead; however, circling back around, if Michigan uses today and plays like today, they'll be just fine in conference.

I don't think Robinson disappeared today, I think the offense went through other people and Glenn lost shots that he otherwise took for himself in the first half.  I'm still skeptical, honestly.  His game today was great, though 'Zona didn't seem to give help defense that other teams will surely do (allowing the one move past his defender to give an open basket).  He has the damn potential, though, help defense be damned.  He needs to utiilze the potential and remain aggressive like he was today.

bronxblue

December 14th, 2013 at 10:41 PM ^

I guess my concern with Robinson is that he has always felt like a secondary player; a really fun, explosive secondary player, but one who really relies on his teammates and the offense to work to his strengths.  Last year he looked great because Trey Burke set him up; this year, he's been up-and-down because the team isn't as strong overall.  I thought he played a great first half, but with only 4 points and a single rebound in the second half it just seemed like he melted into the background again.  I understand that the offense does flow through other guys at times, but part of the reason seems to be that he lacks something (vision, passing ability, one-on-one skills, whatever) to make it logical for the offense to work through him.  I suspect he'll continue to have an up-and-down season as teams adjust (it was weird to see Arizona not help, but I figure they didn't see the need), but I'm definitely hoping that the first half version sticks around more than the second half.

Blue_Blooded92

December 14th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

I'm surprised they didn't throw out the 1-3-1 zone D a little more. The first time i remember seeing it was with about 13 minutes left. That was understandable, since they had manned up pretty well the entire game and Arizona wasn't shooting well. But that first possession, if I remember correctly, in the 1-3-1 forced a turnover.

And then they just stopped running it. I saw it for maybe a few more possessions the rest of the way, and thought it drew some pretty good results, and I'm surprised they didn't go back to it a bit more near the end when Arizona's one on one ability took control, especially with those freakishly talented forwards.

Anyone have any reason why they wouldn't bring out the 1-3-1 more, as I don't know much about basketball?

Tater

December 14th, 2013 at 4:08 PM ^

The team is developing nicely.  By tournament time, they will know how to win the close games.  Hopefully, part of this is not allowing opponents to extend possessions with so many offensive rebounds at crucial times.

My prediction for today's game was off, but I will stick to my original assessment at the beginning of the season: struggle early and be a team nobody wants to play by the NCAA Tournament.

maceo_blastin'

December 15th, 2013 at 4:46 PM ^

UM being a dangerous team by tourney time rests mainly on the development of walton, imo. I love spike but his ideal position on the squad is as an off the bench spark. I don't think he has the defensive potential to be a mainstay on the court.

If walton is ready by tournament time, it will be a testament to the talents of beilein and the coaching staff. Here's hoping the designation point guard u. is here to stay...

Sidenote: my biggest concern this year is with whether or not they can find the grit to close out games. We were so spoiled with trey last year, obviously. So many games in college come down to the last five minutes. Their record could swing by 10-15 games on clutch point guard play. Come on Derrick!!

ehatch

December 14th, 2013 at 4:16 PM ^

just finished watching the game. Michigan got totally fucked by the officials in the last 5 minutes. The stauskus charge and the McGary foul were absolutely terrible.

stmccoy

December 14th, 2013 at 5:38 PM ^

Officials seem to be trying too figure out what a foul is. The lack of consistency in the games I've seen has been a huge problem. Stauskas charge was the right call. The call on McGary was egregious. Aren't you supposed to get calls at home? Duke gets phantom calls. Why can't we get a couple?

My name ... is Tim

December 14th, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

With the OOC primarily over and Michigan sitting at 4 losses and no real marquee wins, what does Michigan need to do, bare minimum, to make the tourney? They'll need to get at least 2 wins, probably 3 against OSU, MSU and Wisconsin, right? And make it to 19 wins?

Am I panicking here? I feel like the concern is finally now legitimate.

hopkinsdrums

December 14th, 2013 at 5:16 PM ^

They definitely need to pick up 2-3 such victories. But the selection committee also puts a great deal of emphasis on how teams finish rather than how they began. With nearly 2/3 of the regular season left, I'm sure they'll be fine as long as they continue to improve (yes, I count this loss still as an improvement). 

stmccoy

December 14th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

I am also concerned. I think they still finish in the top 5 in the conference but with all the problems they've had winning on the road in recent years, they must win games at home. Do that and they're in easy. They also cannot afford let downs like penn state last year. Committee won't punish them for losing to Duke, Iowa State, and Arizona. Charlotte is another story. Today was a good sign offensively but my God they need to improve their defensive rebounding and interior defense.

bronxblue

December 14th, 2013 at 10:47 PM ^

I think 19 wins sounds right, though none of their losses look "bad" by any stretch.  I mean, ISU, Charlotte, Duke, and Arizona are perfectly fine losses, and that FSU win might help out if they can make the tourney.  Plus, outside of Duke all the losses were pretty close, so at least optically it won't be some horrible blowout.

That said, I'd love them to win both MSU and Wiscy at home, and probably hold serve against Iowa and Minny.  OSU, to me, seems like a bit of a paper tiger, simply because they haven't really played anyone of note (their two best wins are probably MD and Marquette, neither of which have been great so far).  That could be a stolen game if UM can play well.

maizenblue92

December 14th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

I'd be interested to see what people think about this but at times down the stretch on offense it just feels like Michigan lacks the closer they need. Nobody really seems comfortable having the ball or taking shots in the final minutes.*

*Although I do think Stauskas is trying very hard to be that guy.

991GT3

December 14th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

improve its rebounding or they will not be competitive in the B1G. McGary cannot do it alone. Beilein needs to address this with his next recruiting class. Without an aircraft carrier in the center, you just cannot beat good teams or compete for the NC.Good shooting will not beat good defense and strong rebounding.  

Steve in PA

December 14th, 2013 at 11:27 PM ^

Anyone who has followed JB for any amount of time, including his 1st year at Michigan, knows he does not play conventional big guy in the middle basketball.  His system has been crafted by many years of coaching at small schools without big rosters or players.  It's almost the basketball equvalent of football's spread offense.

JB's system is about movement. spacing, and execution.  Having high rated recruits didn't happen until he got to Michigan.

GRFS11

December 14th, 2013 at 5:28 PM ^

and the B1G taketh away.  In this case, the B1G giveth, BIG TIME.  For the same reason that a B1G football team needs to go undefeated to reach the BCS Nat'l Championship game, strength of conference means a ton.  Currently, with the numbers 3, 4, and 5 teams in the country (although Wisconsin in this group is hysterical), Michigan passing the eye test, and Iowa being somewhat strong, we could reasonably finish 11-7 in conference and not even have to worry, as long as we get a couple wins over that top group.  Even 10-8 might get us there, with a strong finish.

 

I would guess that we won't get that 4 seed as in last year, but anywhere from 5-7 still puts us in a decent position.  There certainly is no other team in the conference with the type of road experience we have now, so hopefully in February and March that comes back to help us.

Earl

December 14th, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

I agree that the strength of our non-conf schedule and the BIG should get us the benefit of the doubt push come to shove come selection time, but Stanford is becoming more and more a must win. 10-8 in the conference and 17-13 overall is probably squarely on the bubble. Let's hope the team continues to show the improvement it showed today and a BIG record of more than 10 wins is on the horizon. Then we're squarely in as a 6ish seed.

Maizenblueball

December 14th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

was total bullshit.  There were several other calls in the game that I thought actually went in Michigan's favor, where Arizona got screwed.  The only problem was, that McGary phantom touch foul was the most devastating, coming at the end of the game.

I can't put all the blame on the refs though, as Michigan needs to do a MUCH better job rebounding on the boards.  Arizona absolutely owned Michigan on the glass in the 2nd half.  Boxing out needs to improve big time.

One good thing I can take away from this loss; by Michigan losing today, they didn't help OSU become the number 1 team in the nation.  Granted, there isn't much of a silver lining in that cloud, more like a turd colored lining with a few specks of silver sprinkled in.

MGoBender

December 15th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

I immediately thought it was a bad call. I don't know if I'd call it atrocious - Michigan had done a good job hedging the screen without contact all day, but McGary got out a little late, IIRC. But the contact was so minimal it should have been a no-call. I need to look at it again. I thought the officiating was fine - that was the only call I even blinked at the entire game. Of course, it was at the absolute worst time.

EDIT: If you disagree with me, that's cool.  If you think my comment was neg-worthy, then I'd love to hear why.  I don't see anything in my post that was neg-worthy, but if there is, please feel free to help a lowly robot out.

PAproudtoGoBlue

December 15th, 2013 at 2:59 PM ^

It was atrocious. Beyond the fact that it was a terrible call in a game where both squads played physical, the timing of that call was even more atrocious. It's kin to throwing a flag in the end zone on a 3rd and 6 in OT. It takes the game out of the players hands. I understand bad calls happen and are magnified at the end of games but you'd think officials would understand that as well and would be locked in on that fact.

MGoBender

December 15th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

Do you think they are not cognizant of the fact that calls at the end of the game are more important?

I know they are.  For example, the ACC evaluates their officials with an expectation of 90% correct calls/no-calls.  However, they expect their officials to be correct 100% of the time during the last 4 minutes.

If they are not, they are evaluated as such and their evaluations affect what/how many games they are assigned in the future.*

If you look at the play without context, I understand the call and think it was wrong.  The fact that it was wrong becomes a bigger issue because of the context.

My entire point is that there are bigger issues that cost Michigan this game and are more important, IME, to discuss and consider going forward.  However, now that the point system is back, it seems silly to me that people are negging a well-written post that does not inflame and instead provides an alternate viewpoint - that is something we should encourage on MGoBlog, not discourage.

*Not too many years ago was training to officiate at the college level and had the fortune of speaking with the director of ACC officials.

PAproudtoGoBlue

December 16th, 2013 at 8:29 AM ^

I was just letting you know it was atrocious because you said you didn't get to see a replay.  I'd hope that they were cognizant of that fact but when you let these guys bang down low all game and then blow a whistle on a play where McGary was moving his feet and playing great hedge defense just  is bad.  I agree we lost that game for a variety of reasons we just don't need officials making calls like that. As far as neg points I'm not even allowed to give points let alone take them away.  I can't wait until I have that kind of power. 

remdog

December 14th, 2013 at 5:56 PM ^

Both teams played well today. Zona showed why it's #1 and Michigan showed why it will be a Final Four contender by the end of the year. So it's a loss and unfortunately the rankings/tournament seedings don't give any credit for a toss-up near-win against the #1 team but it was great to see Michigan show they belong in the elite again this year. Here are the positives and negatives I saw:

Negatives:
1. Subpar Rebounding (this was a negative against one of the best rebounding teams in the country)
2. Subpar Interior Defense

Positives:
1. Robinson finally had a break through game where he showed offensive versatility and created his own shot. This is HUGE. I've seemed a couple posters claim he "disappeared" but that's totally ridiculous. He was the best offensive player on the floor today against the #1 team in the country. He needs to show similar aggressiveness on offense in the future and build on this game.
2. Levert had another impressive game with a dazzling display on offense. He's has legitimate NBA potential.
3. Albrecht showed up as usual in big games and showed he is an elite point guard. I'm convinced Walton will become a star but he's still just a freshman.
4. Horford is a difference maker on defense.
5. Everybody came to play as a team and the overall effort was good enough to win against the #1 team in the country.

Why Michigan lost:
1. Rebounding
2. A couple loose turnovers
3. Incredible free throw shooting by Zona
4. Phenomenal inside play by Zona's stars at the end
5. A couple bad calls by the refs (notably the key call against McGary in the last minute)

It's a long season and this loss will ultimately make them stronger. I'm looking forward to a great season and many more wins ahead.

The Peanut Master

December 14th, 2013 at 6:06 PM ^

On a level of 1 to Burke-clean-block-in-NC-game, how big of a blown call was this? I didn't have a good vantage point of the play at Crisler and have yet to see a highlight video include the play.

UMgradMSUdad

December 14th, 2013 at 6:21 PM ^

If you're talking about the call late in the 4th quarter, of the three choices a ref has, I would rank them from most to least suitable as follows: no call, offensive foul, defensive foul.  The offensive player initiated contact, but it wasn't really enough to call a foul.  The only thing that may have led the ref astray is that McGary is so much bigger, the Zona player just kind of bounced back away from him.  Still, there should not have been a call at all.

thatsmyjam

December 14th, 2013 at 7:31 PM ^

In terms of game-changing-ness, this was the biggest/worst call in a while. I've watched enough ball to know that refs can be inconsistent, but this guy REALLY stood out to me. From about 20 feet away and facing it dead-on, it was 100% bullshit. To me (and to I would think any ref) that is a play-on situation every single time. 

MGoBender

December 14th, 2013 at 11:42 PM ^

I've said it before, but we really need to think about whether Stauskas can be #1.

I know right now, with the game on the line I want the ball in levert or GR3's hands.

Kilgore Trout

December 15th, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

I think the biggest issue with this team is that it seems to be a great combination of role players without a go to guy. They probably have the best hustle, garbage time big man in the NCAA, one of the best athletic finishers in the game, the best spot duty backup PG in the game, and the best spot up shooter with the ability to take it to the basket.

I would experiement with using Lavert as the go to guy. He seems to have the best combination of shooting and dribble drive on the team. Give him the ball late in the shot clock and let him develop his confidence.

MGoBender

December 15th, 2013 at 7:19 PM ^

I agree, LeVert has shown he can get to the rack and he's been able to do it against the high level competition that Stauskas hasn't (hopefully because of his ankle, but I am worried that just might not be a part of his game yet).

I was especially dismayed that Michigan didn't get something towards the basket.  After the poor foul call on McGary, you would have to expect that any kind of contact in the lane would have drawn a foul call for Michigan on the other end, but instead Stauskas jacked up a contested, long two.  Not a great decision, but hopefully one we can learn from.