Five Key Plays: Michigan vs. Villanova

Villanova handed Michigan its first loss of the season late Tuesday night, 60-55. The Wolverines recovered after a painful first half for a thrilling finish that came down to the final seconds. Here are Five Key Plays from the Legends Classic final.

1) Michigan breaks out of slump with 7-0 run early in second half

The Wolverines finished the first half having been held without a point in the last 7:17 — featuring an 0-for-10 slump — and didn’t score in the second half for nearly three minutes. Zak Irvin finally broke the scoreless streak with a jumper from the elbow, and then Michigan heated up. Caris LeVert intercepted an entry pass on the ensuing defensive possession and got separation from Darrun Hilliard for a short jumper. The Wolverines finished the quick 7-0 run with a three-pointer as LeVert found Derrick Walton open when JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu left the sophomore alone to guard Zak Irvin. The three cut Michigan’s deficit to six, and the game only improved from there.

The importance of this run is magnified by just how dreadful the Wolverines had looked for the previous ten minutes. Michigan looked like a broken team and could have easily let Villanova run away with the game down the stretch.

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Game 5: Michigan vs. Villanova Recap

Michigan vs. Villanova basketball game on Nov. 25, 2014 in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Villanova 60, Michigan 55. Photo Gallery. Video Reactions. (Photo: Adam Glanzman)

Michigan grew up in Brooklyn, but it came up short.

For a solid ten minutes on Tuesday the Wolverines were flat out punked by Villanova. The Wildcats held Michigan without a basket for a stretch that spanned the final seven of the first half and the first three of the second.

Michigan finally bottomed when Caris LeVert was ripped by JayVaughn Pinkston for a steal and easy dunk to stretch the Villanova lead to 13 points. From there, the Wolverines called three timeouts in 18 seconds. First to stop the momentum, then because Derrick Walton was trapped in the corner and then because Kameron Chatman couldn’t even inbound the ball. Michigan looked broken and the Wildcats appeared to be on the verge of their second straight blowout win in Brooklyn.

But for the first time this season, we saw what happens when this Michigan team is punched in the mouth. The Wolverines got up off the mat and battled back. Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton combined for a 7-0 run in just over a minute to put Michigan back in the game.

The Wolverines eventually overtook the lead, only to let it slip away late. This young group made the type of mistakes that you can’t make to win games against a good team. From JayVaughn Pinkston’s emphatic block of Zak Irvin’s late dunk attempt to Mark Donnal’s missed front-end of a one-and-one, Villanova simply out-executed Michigan down the stretch.

The loss hurts, but the important lesson on Tuesday night wasn’t that Michigan lost, it was that it had the heart to get up when it could have packed it in.

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Photo Gallery: Villanova 60, Michigan 55

Michigan vs. Villanova basketball game on Nov. 25, 2014 in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

All photos by Adam Glanzman. Full gallery after the jump. [click to continue…]

John Beilein, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht met with the media after Michigan’s thrilling loss to Villanova on Tuesday night. Watch Michigan’s juniors and head coach discuss the loss in the embedded media players below.

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Game 5: Michigan vs. Villanova Open Thread

Michigan vs. Oregon basketball game on Nov. 24, 2014 in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Adam Glanzman

Michigan’s first four games haven’t been flawless, but the Wolverines have been good enough to win thus far. Tonight the Wolverines enter the fray as an underdog for the first time this season against Villanova. Tip-off is tentatively scheduled for 10:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center and you can join the discussion in the comments before during and after the game.

Pregame Reading

Five Key Plays: Michigan vs. Oregon

Michigan never trailed Monday night at the Barclays Center, but it needed a late run to survive a stiff challenge from Oregon. Here are Five Key Plays from the Wolverines’ win in the Progressive Legends Classic semifinal.

1) Zak Irvin showcases expanded skills in first half

Zak Irvin finished with a team-high 19 points, and he did significant damage in the first half. At the 16-minute mark, the forward connected on his first three-pointer of the game, taking a feed from Kameron Chatman and firing over Joseph Young. Three minutes later, Irvin’s long-range threat forced Oregon’s Elgin Cook to overplay him in the corner, so the sophomore blew by him on the baseline for a dunk.

Irvin’s last bucket of the opening frame was a product of his improved athleticism. He received a pass from Spike Albrecht outside the three-point arc, stepped by Dillon Brooks and then finished with a finger roll around Cook to put Michigan up five.

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