Game 18: Iowa at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan vs Iowa_18
Scott Mapes

Michigan 75, Iowa 67. Photo Gallery. Beilein presser (video). McCaffery presser (video). Player reactions (video). Box score.

Michigan just keeps on rolling. The Wolverines reeled off their eighth straight win, and second in a row over a top ten opponent, with a comfortable 75-67 home victory over Iowa on Wednesday night.

Starting point guard Derrick Walton played just three minutes due to flu-like symptoms while Mitch McGary returned – to the bench in street clothes. But Michigan keeps getting better, clearly playing its best basketball of the season.

Iowa played neck-and-neck with the Wolverines for the first 20 minutes and never folded, a stark change from last year’s matchup. The Hawkeyes made a late run after Michigan stretched its lead to double digits, but the Wolverines just had all the answers.

In the first half, Nik Stauskas played like a pro – answering Melsahn Basabe’s dunks and layups with step-backs, threes and dazzling crossovers.  In the second half it was spot-starter Spike Albrecht and sixth-man Zak Irvin that stepped up to provide an offensive boost.

Iowa’s offense had garnered significant hype for its depth, pace an efficiency leading into the game, but Michigan beat the Hawkeyes in just about every stat they were supposed to control.

Fast break points? 12-4. Second chance points? 14-12. Points off turnovers? 20-10. Bench scoring? 12-8.

Next up is a battle for first place in the conference on Saturday in East Lansing against No. 3 Michigan State.


Michigan’s offense started just a bit shaky and fell in love with the three late in the second half, but still scored 1.13 points per possession. Only Notre Dame has scored more effectively against the Hawkeyes this season, and the Wolverine offense was effective despite poor shooting games from Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III. Michigan opened the game with 4 empty possessions and went six of seven possessions without a basket midway through the second half, but scored 73 points in the other 55 possessions of the game – 1.32 points per trip.

The Wolverines shot 61% on twos (shockingly slightly below their Big Ten average) and just 29% on threes, but Fran McCaffery deserves credit for rolling out his 2-3 matchup zone. The Wolverine offense sputtered against the zone, which resulted in 62% of Michigan’s second half field goal attempts coming from behind the arc. Michigan’s offense is up to No. 3 overall in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency numbers and statistically there’s very little separating this offense from last year’s team.

Defensively, Michigan was great through the middle 20 minutes of the game and that turned out to be enough. The Wolverines controlled the pace of the game – the game’s 66 possessions were well below Iowa’s 73 possession average – limiting Iowa’s transition offense and finding timely opportunities the other way. Holding a top-five offense to a point per possession output is an impressive showing for a defense that’s been questioned quite a bit.

Iowa did win the ‘free throw gap’ that we discussed in the preview, but it wasn’t by a wide margin and most of the Hawkeyes’ free throw production was after Michigan established a lead. Iowa did almost all of its damage in the lane, only attempting 19% of its field goals from 3-point range and connecting on just 20%

Melsahn Basabe killed the Wolverines early and Aaron White killed the Wolverines late. For whatever reason, Iowa couldn’t get either player involved consistently. White didn’t take a shot in the first half and used just four Iowa possessions in the first 28 minutes of the game. He used 12 of Iowa’s final 22 possessions and almost led a comeback. Basabe scored 15 points on 10 shots in the first half, but was 0-of-2 in the second half.

Home teams are supposed to win in the Big Ten. The Wolverines should have won this game and they played like it. They didn’t play their best game, but they dictated the pace and won fairly comfortably despite a shortened bench. Michigan and Michigan State not only enter Saturday’s game undefeated, they are two games clear of the rest of the pack.

Michigan vs Iowa_26
Scott Mapes

Player Bullets:

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas put on an offensive clinic, tallying a career high 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five assists. His pick-and-roll game was clinical whether it was the mid-range jump shot, the three, the drive to the hoop or the drop off to Jordan Morgan. Most of the shots that Stauskas missed were wide open. There were stretches in the first half where Stauskas’s offensive clinic was reminiscent of Trey Burke against Northwestern – and against a team as good as Iowa, that’s a scary sight. You know Stauskas is playing well when John Beilein admits he’d throw up three goggles himself if there were no cameras around.
  • Spike Albrecht:  With Walton essentially sidelined due to the flu, Albrecht stepped up and played a career-high 35 minutes in his first career start. He played a critical role forcing five Hawkeye turnovers, including a jumped inbound pass that led to a quick two points. He handed out seven assists (zero turnovers) and knocked down one of his three patented deep three-point attempts. A perfect assist to Robinson over the top of the zone with 2 minutes to play and a pair of late game free throws just sealed the deal in a superb performance.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan’s resurgence continues to be one of the best feel good stories in college basketball. He sustained his ankle injury just over a year ago at Illinois and appears to have made it all the way back. Right now, he’s playing like the Jordan Morgan of two seasons ago. Morgan is shooting a ridiculous 82% from the floor since McGary was sidelined indefinitely. He scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting (including a mid-range jumper) and grabbed seven rebounds in another clutch performance against a tall, active Iowa frontline. He also made two of the biggest defensive plays in the game late when he saved a rebound on the floor headed out of bounds and rejected Basabe at the rim with under a minute to play.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson really struggled with his jumper – 0-of-5 on threes, 6-of-10 on twos – but he did a great job of attacking the basket in the second half after some indecisiveness in the first. Robinson’s two handed slam on a straight line drive (followed by Albrecht’s steal) to the hoop set the tone and gave U-M a bit of a cushion. His rebounding aggressiveness (four offensive, five defensive) was a welcome sight after a disappointing showing on the glass in Madison.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin has been in a bit of a rut lately, making just one three since his five triple outburst at Minnesota, but he stepped up with 11 critical points off the bench including a five point run by himself. There are still freshman mistakes (especially on defense), but Irvin is very capable of providing a quick scoring burst off the bench.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert struggled to deal with Iowa’s length from the opening tip-off. His final stat line was ugly: Five points on 2-of-9 shooting, 1 assist, 3 turnovers in 34 minutes. He also had a costly string of turnovers and mistakes down the stretch that nearly cost the Wolverines the game. I thought LeVert did a good job getting back in transition, but this is a disappointing follow up to his great showing at Wisconsin.
  • Jon Horford: Horford didn’t take a shot, but grabbed three rebounds in just eight minutes of play. It was a quiet performance, but Morgan was playing so well that the Michigan coaches stuck with him.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton gave Michigan a few minutes, but turned the ball over. John Beilein reported that he missed the game prep practice with a fever and the Wolverines opted to ride with Spike Albrecht.


  • Lynette Gascoigne

    Jordan played lights out! WAY TO GO YOUNG MAN!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gpsimms

    What a fantastic *team* win. My favorite part is that there were individuals who struggled with parts of their game, but as a team they stuck to the plan perfectly.

    Transition for us, not for them. Our offensive rebounding was even slightly above our average which is a win against Iowa. And to get any offensive boards but still hold them to almost nothing in transition was just huge.

    Can Stauskas be a better offensive player than Burke? Serious question.

    He’s a better shooter. He’s equally good at creating space for a jumper, which he hits more than Burke. He’s better in the pick and roll game. He doesn’t have Burke’s speed for transition (not close). He doesn’t have Burke’s toughness going to the hoop, but he has 6 extra inches. Wow he is a great offensive basketball player.

    • kam

      they’re different players.. one is 6 foot.. The other is 6’6… One is a PG one is a wing. I want to see how he plays against tough defenders that MSU has

      • gpsimms

        Even though Nik’s a wing, so much offense goes through him he is kind of like a Darius Morris type pg. His ability on the screen and roll is very Darius-esque. And while his usage is currently lower, it’s been steadily rising and I’m sure it will continue.

        • kam

          Usually wings are better offensively than PGs.. So it wouldnt shock me if he becomes better or even already is.. He’s bigger and a better shooter. He is extremely talented offensively

    • guestavo

      Burke was definitely a better passer and he was a better finisher. Nik is definitely a better catch and shoot but not sure who is a better shooter off the bounce? Burke was also deadly leading the break. Caris, Walton and GR3 seem to lead the break for us on this team, not really Nik.

    • Adam Valentine

      An extra six inches? That’s what she said.

      • gpsimms

        Shoot. Too bad I didn’t say, “He doesn’t have Burke’s strength and endurance going to the hole. But he does have an extra six inches.”

        Missed opportunity.

        • Adam Valentine


  • Jsquiggles

    I think this year’s team is harder to defend than last year’s. I wish Caris would find a way to be more decisive. He’s not a very good passer and often over dribbles. It’s tough to find a balance, but if he gets more efficient…..look out. That’s the most exciting thing about this team: I don’t think they’ve played their best game yet.

  • gobluemd16

    What a win. Contributions from almost everyone. Sure, Caris didn’t play well offensively (bad, really), but he played great D on Marble most of the night; JMo was amazing; Glenn stopped Basabe in the second half and was effective attacking the hoop; Spike was extremey solid; Zak hit big shots; and of course, Nik, the kid is an absolute beast. We need to give him even more touches, his confidence is insane. This team is for real.
    Caris definitely needs to be more decisive, stop overdribbling and look to pass more on offense, but we need him to penetrate the D in addition to Nik. Also, I thought the reffing was pretty bad. A lot of defensive calls on us that I thought weren’t been close to fouls. One on JMo and another on Caris stand out. Going to have to overcome that even more in East Lansing against Commissioner Izzo and company. Can’t wait for Saturday though, who would have thought we would be 6-0 in B1G play?! GO BLUE

    • kam

      Thats what i was thinking about Caris.. Horrible offense but he did an amazing job on marble which was big. Im surprised that wasn’t mentioned.. And i agree about being decisive. I think he needs to try and attack and if he cant kick it out. and yes the calls were bad at times

    • gobluemd16

      Additionally, as great of a game as Nik had, he missed I think 3 WIDE open threes. He must’ve had too much time to think about it, but he could have surpassed 32 points for sure. He makes those 90% of the time. Glenn also had some open threes that he didn’t knock down, he has been struggling from downtown recently.

      • kam

        It seems when NIK is wide open he misses. Especially late in game.. maybe he thinks about it?

      • guestavo

        Good thing Nik doesn’t use his legs heavily on his jumpshots or fatigue might be an issue down the road.

  • kam

    GREAT WIN! Glad spike came in and balled! He has such an amazing IQ. Glad the bigs are playing great. Also great game Irvin!

  • P-nickel

    If McGary can get back by the tournament…oh boy watch out!

    • kam

      ehh.. they have great chemistry without him and i feel that would break it if he randomly started playing

      • Mattski

        I would worry about that, too. Just a little bit of an underdog flavor to these guys that’s really worth savoring now.

    • Kenny

      No chance McGary comes back this season. But this team can still be very dangerous in the tournament with Zak and Caris improving.

    • Cliff Pappe

      Pretty sure this season is lost for him. Get him healed up, back in condition and then be ready for next year.

  • Kenny

    It was a very entertaining game. Spike outperformed his NC game performance tonight. Played brilliantly, making critical plays after critical plays.

    This team has started to make people believing, and they certainly believe in themselves. They played with a lot of composure and swagger tonight.

    • robpollard

      “Spike outperformed his NC game performance tonight…”? Spike played really well tonight, but let’s not get carried away.

    • dufflbag

      On the play where Glenn got poked in the eye, Spike’s play was GIF worthy.

  • guestavo

    Caris just doesn’t have the skillset on offense to deal with that Iowa high ball screen. Needs another summer before he can be a consistent offensive option against teams who don’t allow easy penetration or go under the screens.

    • Chazer

      I agree he needs more time and another year. He looks uncertain at times and isn’t quite comfortable. He has tremendous length, speed and agility which translate very well to being a good player. I watched his steal and dunk a few times. He dribbled the ball once over half court for a dunk….try that at home boys and girls! He is a great find, next year could all he needs.

      Go Blue!

      • kam

        Adding another 10 pounds will really help him too!

  • David DeMember

    The best part of this season… the legend of John Beilein keeps unfolding in front of our eyes. His players and teams just consistently get better, day in day out, season after season. Lose trey, tim. No problem. Lose McGary, no problem. Lose your starting PG, no problem… Getting 3 and 4 star prospects in to The League year after year doesn’t hurt either.

    • Wayman Britt

      Good point maybe the football coaches should take notice.

    • Mattski

      Yeah, I’m really in a little bit of awe of this guy. He is right up there with the very best who have coached the game.

    • gpsimms

      How has he never been B1G coach of the year? It’s so ridiculous. I would not trade him for any coach in the country.

      • Adam Valentine

        Nothing better than trolling Sparty by telling them Beilien is a better coach than Izzo when the talent gap is close. Now it’s even.

  • Gordon

    I think an underrated factor in this game was Michigan’s continued ability to avoid turnovers. Going into this game, we heard all about how Iowa likes to run, but it’s tough to run if you’re not generating turnovers. This reminded me of the VCU game last year. — Beilein-coached teams are a bad matchup for teams that rely on the fast break for offense.

    I don’t think the defense was all that impressive…just good enough. The key was limiting turnovers.

    • guestavo

      Go look at how many teams have held Iowa to the 60s.

  • Cliff Pappe

    I love the way the team is playing right now. I think a lot of people had given up on the Wolverines when McGary was lost and the 4 losses had appeared. Beiliein is just doing what he does best, using the players he has to win games. Looking forward to Saturday!!!

  • Chezaroo

    An amazing atmosphere last night, felt like a big tournament game. As great as the win was, this team has a lot of potential to continue to grow. When they all click on the same night, lookout! Let the draftNIKS come out in force now, two great games and now he’s universally lottery bound. Funny how things change in two weeks time. He was a consensus very late 1st, or early second a few weeks ago. Let’s enjoy his last 18-20 games as a Wolverine, he was quite a find.

  • Wayman Britt

    UM’s defense is what helped them win. Holding Iowa to 20 under their normal offense output was big. Morgan’s block at the end of the game should be one of the keys.

  • Graham Brown

    I missed the game, so question: no horford or Walton means it was a six man rotation?

    • kam

      Jon played.. walton only played like 5 minutes

  • RDD15

    I thought that we saw a really interesting wrinkle to the pick and roll from Iowa last night.

    We all know that Morgan is really good at hedging pick and roll and taking it away from opponents for the most part. Last night, Iowa was setting up two consecutive pick and roll opportunities. Running it once, and then again just as the defense rotated back to normal. It looked like this caused a bit of a breakdown with the defense, making it tough for Morgan to get up top and properly hedge the second pick and roll action.

    Just a bit of a wrinkle that I think it will be interesting to see whether opponents do this in the future, and if Michigan practices how to deal with it.

  • gobluemd16

    Spike: 7 pts (2/4), 4 steals, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 0 turnovers. I know we all want Derrick to develop, but Spike needs more minutes. I didn’t think he got abused on the defensive end, either.
    Remember when some were wondering why we signed this kid, another reason John Beilein is an unbelivable coach. No matter what players we get to Michigan, I have complete trust in the coaches to develop them to their fullest potential.

    • Adam

      I was very impressed with Spike’s hustle on the defensive end. He was running around several screens and staying with his guy well.

    • kam

      I agree about spike, but I don’t think against MSU would be a good game for big minutes because Appling Prolly would abuse him..spike gets what 3-7 minute a game? I think he needs 8-15

      • gobluemd16

        He’s averaged exactly 15 mpg in Big Ten games prior to last night. That could probably increase to around 20

    • guestavo

      Spike was definitely getting abused on the defensive end in the first half.

      • gobluemd16

        Take a look at the defensive score sheet. I don’t remember any instances of this

        • guestavo

          He guarded Mike Gesell and the defensive score sheet doesn’t contextualize that. There were multiple instances of him being posted up and scored on, repeatedly.

          • mikey_mac

            Gesell also managed to turn the corner on him a couple times. That really shouldn’t happen.

    • Kenny

      Spike deserves more minutes but he was mostly quiet between the NC game and last night. I hope to see the Spike having these kind of performance, if not every night, more often than every 20 games.

  • Mattski

    Stauskas’s ridiculous slicing drive through the Iowa defense in the first half is at 1:33 of the highlights, which are full of pretty play on both sides. Really entertaining game.

    Thanks as always for the write-up!

  • ChathaM

    The keys to the game were clearly laid out by Dylan in yesterday’s preview, and UM got the job done in all 3 areas. They severely limited Iowa in transition (if there’s one key to the win, that’s it), they rebounded with the Hawkeyes, and Iowa didn’t get to the FT line consistently until late in the game. I’ll echo the comments re: Beilein and the coaching staff; outstanding.

    The only time Iowa made a significant run in the 2nd half was when UM missed a series of pretty good looks from 3 point range. They may have settled for the shots to some degree, but the fact is that that UM consistently gets open looks against every defence they see of late.

    On any team, there always seems to be one player for whom the game moves too quickly at times. For Iowa, that player is Jared Uthoff, who is very talented, but who suffers from a lack of game experience. For UM, I think that player is Caris. In the grand scheme, he’s far from being a veteran. But, he’s played enough minutes in enough intense environments that these pace related errors need to be limited. I trust that he’ll figure it out, but for Beilein to have to take Caris out for a break inside the final several minutes of a tight game is unsettling.

    We saw several accidents on the way home, and there were lots of cars off the road. I hope that everyone here made it home safely.