Game 7: Michigan at Utah Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (4-3) at Utah (4-4)
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Wednesday, December 9th, 9PM EST
TV: CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch 613, 255 on Comcast Sports Tier in Ann Arbor)
Radio: MGoBlue, WOMC 104.3 FM
Stats: Live Tempo Free Stats
Line: Utah by 1
Pomeroy Profile


Michigan makes the trip to Salt Lake City to take on Jim Boylen’s Utes. Utah is coming off of a terrific year that ended with a disappointing first round NCAA tournament upset loss to Arizona. The good news for Michigan is that this year’s Utah team lost a significant chunk of production from last year’s team and appears to be in rebuilding mode.

After losing only two home games last year, Utah has already fallen to Idaho and Seattle on their home court as well as Oklahoma State (neutral) and Weber State away from home. While it hasn’t been pretty at times, Utah has managed to win a few games including an impressive comeback win over Illinois.

Carlon Brown, Utah’s leading scorer, has highlight reel ability

Judging by the depth and size of Utah’s roster, it’s clear that they don’t have a traditional mid-major roster. 6’5” wing Carlon Brown is Utah’s leading scorer, averaging 12.75 points per game with an eFG% of only 41.8% (and he can jump). He is joined by 6’5″ Luca Drca (8.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) and 6’2” freshman Marshall Henderson (9.25 ppg) in the backcourt.

kim-tillie david-foster
Kim Tillie and David Foster

The Ute’s frontcourt size should dwarf Michigan’s undersized front line. Senior frenchman Kim Tillie, a 6’11” power forward, averages 9.75 points per game with an eFG% of 52.6 (4-10 3pt) while pulling down 6.8 rebounds per game (DraftExpress scouting). But he is short compared to the Utes’ starting center, 7’3″ sophomore David Foster, who averages 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game.

Utah’s bench contains six more players averaging 10+ minutes per game. San Francisco transfer Jay Watkins is the one the watch. The athletic 6’7″ wing forward is averaging 11.3 points and 5 rebounds per game since returning from a pelvis injury.

Looking at Utah’s statistical profile it becomes clear why the Utes have struggled a bit this year. After shooting the lights out last year (54.6% eFG%, 54.1 2pfg%, 37 3pfg%), Utah is struggling to put the ball in the basket. Their effective field goal percentage is only 48.8% and they are making only 31.3% of their threes. They still do a great job of holding onto the ball (17.4% TO%) and manage to get the line at a respectable rate (40.1 FTR) but, especially for their size, they are a lackluster offensive rebounding team (31.1% OR).

On the defensive side of the ball, Utah is allowing nearly a point per possession with a defensive efficiency of 98.7. They force very few turnovers and appear to be a mediocre defensive rebounding team. The downside for Michigan is that they defend the three point shot very well, allowing opponents to shoot only 30.6% from behind the arc. With all the size inside, it’s also not surprising that Utah blocks plenty of shots (12.2% block%).

Utah has struggled this year but this game will not be easy. Michigan will have to snap out of their shooting slump on the road against a tall and athletic team that defends the three well. Carlon Brown says that Utah plans to try to keep the ball out of Manny Harris’ hands and force the other four guys to beat them.

With a trip to Lawrence, KS and a home tilt with Connecticut on the schedule, Michigan has dug themselves into a hole where they simply have to win this game. A loss would make a 6-6 non conference record a very real possibility and leave Michigan plenty of work to do in conference play.

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  • Chris

    Looks like no tournament this year for Michigan. Other than Manny Harris no one on the team is forcing the issue and is constantly back on their heals reacting to what the other team is doing. They are only shooting 29% from 3 point range this year which is 242 out of 258 teams. A Coach Beilein led squad lives and dies with the 3 and so far that is what is happening and we are dying. We need to be shooting about 40% from 3 point range to be affective IMO.

    The lack of shooting is also translating to the defensive end of the floor because MIchigan goes to their 1-3-1 zone after makes and if you aren’t making shots you can’t implement that strategy. Last nights game was evident after misses they gave up numerous easy layups in transition because the guards like Harris and Morris have to crash the boards.

    Also not being able to hit shots allows defenders to play off of our shooters and take DeShawn Sims out of the game as last night he was only 2-7 with 3 rebounds against two 7-footers from Utah who camped under the basket all night. LLP is out of sync and Douglas has lost his shot and needs to find it. Morris is coming around, but we need to shoot the ball better end of story otherwise it is going to be a long year.

    With the loss to Utah and potential losses to U-Conn and Kansas still looming that would give a us 6-6 in non-conference play with really no quality wins. What would we need in conference to make the tournament. 11-7 with 2 wins the B10 tournament to get to 19 wins perhaps.

    I don’t even want to think about what it will be like next year with out Manny(who should stay for his last year, still very skinny and doesn’t look NBA ready IMO) or Sims.

  • Jeff

    I’m not trying to be sensational, but this team is in real danger of missing the NIT. They will probably finish the non-conference season .500, so they will have to go 9-9 in a tough B10 plus win one game in the B10 tournament just to finish at .500 for the season. In less than a month of basketball, we’ve gone from a sweet sixteen candidate to a NIT bubble team. This sucks!

  • Drew

    Just taking a moment to forget about our struggles, is Marshall Henderson anyone else’s new favorite player to dislike? After seeing him run down the court flailing his arms, and then flexing after that and one. Nearly caused me to go into a fit of rage at the bar I was watching the game at

  • AG2

    I don’t think its just after missed shots guys are getting back and beating our defense. There were a few times where they started running right after a make, UNC style. I counted at least 12 wide open layups last night.

    Was I the only one who saw that massive Utah run coming when Michigan cut it to 1 and Manny missed the and one free throw that would have tied it?

    The way this team plays, even gimmes vs. UD Mercy aren’t guaranteed. Yet somehow I can’t help but feel like we can still turn it around, beat UConn and go 12-6 in the Big Ten. We would be 19-11 then, and still possibly in play for a bid. I don’t know, but I kinda think we’re getting better.

  • Jeff

    Yeah, he was obnoxious, but my overriding thought, especially in the first half was, why aren’t they guarding this kid. After his second three, I said ok, they need to guard this kid and he continued to get wide open looks. That has become a pattern with this team this year–a hot shooter who just continues to get wide open look after wide open look. It was very frustrating.

  • Mith

    I generally try to be an optimist, but I don’t see how we can even really hope for this team to be the 12-6 or so it would require in conference to make the tourney. The way they are playing they are headed straight for 5-13 or 6-13.

    Alot of people keep saying they’ll get better. Why? They’ve been pretty suspect for the last 7 games, that’s a long time.

  • Mith

    Dang it, I meant 6-12.

  • Bball

    The Henderson kid was definitely a humongous toolbox…but you know what?

    He played with PASSION and EXCITEMENT! I hope he sneezed on some of our guys – Sims especially – and that stuff is contagious.

  • PeteM

    I was at the game last night in Utah, and was frustrated with the lapses and lack of consistent effort. On the rebounding front, yes they were a lot bigger, but there were also a lot of balls that bounced around that we didn’t come up with through what appeared to be lack of aggressiveness and/or effort. Also, when the game was still in reach Utah got a couple of layups that just shouldn’t have happened.

    How can Stu Douglass (a shooter) miss two of two free throws? I know he is going through some things mentally, but sheesh.

    I still think that Beilein is a great coach, but this team (outside of Manny and maybe Zack Gibson) has to play harder and more consistently.

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