For a brief moment in the second half of an eventual 18-point loss to Iowa on Sunday, Michigan actually seemed to have a fighter’s chance to mount a comeback against Iowa.

The unlikely became plausible because of Aubrey Dawkins. The freshman forward scored all 16 of his points after the break to lead the Wolverines during a game in which they struggled at both ends of the court.

The sliver of hope came with with 8:12 remaining. Dawkins hit a three-pointer, and suddenly, what had been an 18-point deficit was cut to nine. The Crisler Center recognized the response, roaring with anticipation for second-half theatrics.

But they never came. The Hawkeyes responded with a five quick points on a three-pointer and jumper to stretch the lead back to 14, and Michigan never threatened again.

Still, Dawkins had an outstanding 20 minutes, tallying nearly half of the Wolverines’ points — 16 of 33 — in the period. It was the third time in five games that the freshman starter has scored in double-digits.

“He’s recognizing things just a little bit quicker,” said coach John Beilein.

Dawkins added he feels better in his “understanding of the game, knowing the offense and knowing my defensive assignments.”

The forward certainly looked comfortable in Michigan’s offense in the second half. He began the frame with a drive to the basket, which drew a foul and earned a trip to the charity stripe, ending more than a seven-minute stretch without a point for the Wolverines.

Following the second of Aaron White’s technical fouls, Dawkins sank his first trey of the night on a feed from Andrew Dakich at the 13-minute mark. He made another four minutes later, then his third — the one that brought Michigan within nine — moments after that.

And although then Iowa pulled away with ease, Dawkins kept hitting. He drove for a bucket and then delivered yet another three late.

“They didn’t really shoot the three-ball well until Dawkins got hot,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “He was tremendous. I love his game, and he really picked them up when they needed it.”

Beilein had a complaint, though.

“He didn’t block out on the very, very first play. They got a lay-in,” the coach said. “We have talked nothing but blockouts since the Michigan State game. He’s growing in some areas that it’s small bits right now but he’s been successful. … He’s gained confidence that he can at least put the ball in the basket. Now he’s got to grow in some other areas.”

The frustrations also stretched to the rest of the freshmen, who have had difficulties adjusting to the speed of the game, according to Beilein.

Kameron Chatman, for instance, began the night with a baseline jumper, but in the second half, a similar look sailed to the top of the backboard. Even Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman struggled with Iowa’s size, finishing with 11 points, but on 4-of-10 shooting.

Ultimately, Dawkins’ big night wasn’t enough to prevent Michigan suffering its worst home defeat since 2010, leaving Beilein searching for answers.

“We’re just grasping for straws — that’s probably a poor word,” he said. “We’re just searching really, really hard to find the best way for us to play as a team.”

Photo: Dustin Johnston

  • psickert3

    I remember when Aubrey Dawkins was on campus a poster said ” he is not good I hope he goes to Dayton “. I am glad that he is part of this program, alone with MAAR. People were complaining because we didn’t bank the ships for “15”

    I mean people threw hissy fits because of star ratings.

    When I said “Let The Kid Play In A Michigan uniform before you judge his game -I got blacklisted. Smh. Me being a major fan of UM.. I will never go against anyone coach Beliein recruits. Those who stay will be developed.

    Okay here’s evidence.

    Not one single person, not even myself would’ve thought Max Biefiet would contribute ANYTHING to the team because he has no length and is undersized for his position…I was wrong. He is playing with a purpose. He was developed.

    Before you consider this class poor or mediocre, GIVE all players a chance to develope. EVERYONE who left this program hasn’t failed well. LOOK AT Evan Smot, Carlton Brididgue ( Yes I know that I butchered his name) , Cotton Christine, LLP. And even Jon Horford.

    People even thought that Stu Douglass, Jordan Morgan and Zack Novak was not talented. Smh. Imagine if Ben Cronin would’ve been Happy. Do you remember CJ Lee and David Merritt was in our rotation over the higher rankes Kevin Grady along with Stu and Zack and we made the tourney ?

    Also don’t forget than Peety ( Deshawn sims) didn’t play well for two season, even if he got a pass for his brother being murdered.

    My Point is that you should this coaching staff because they are consistent in turn diamonds in the rough to trillion cuts. Don’t GIVE up on Chapman Yet either, I am confident that he will turn it around. Idiots need to stop wishing for to transfer.

    I hope this doesn’t get me banned or blacklisted.

    • Wayman Britt

      I don’t think people are saying that Beilein does not develop players and I agree with you that we should not give up on the current roster. However, if UM’s goal is to make the elite eight or final four they need at least one maybe two impact players. Players that will play in the NBA. I believe that is why some fans are saying the things they say. The current roster, less Caris, probably does not have someone who will have a long career in the NBA.

      I believe people’s differing expectations are what is causing fans comments.

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      Good post. We have the best coach in the Big Ten. The season isn’t over and there are plenty of opportunities left for guys to develop, win games, and get a low seed in the tournament – this season.

      GO BLUE!