Five Key Plays: UCLA 102, Michigan 84

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan dropped a game at UCLA on Saturday night, but the back-and-forth action was still plenty entertaining. Here are Five Key Plays from the defeat.

1. Michigan offense gets hot

Michigan played its worst defensive game of the KenPom era, but for 20 minutes it was scoring points at the same rate. The Wolverine offense was on fire in the first half and seemingly couldn’t miss from long distance. The Wolverines were an incredible 12-of-16 from three-point range as 7 different players hit at least one triple in the opening frame.

The three-pointers ranged from routine to ridiculous, but for the most part Michigan was getting clean, open looks from three in the first half. The Wolverines shot their way all the way to a 7 point lead late in the first half, but the Bruins still had every answer.

2. UCLA closes half strong

Closing the first half has developed into a major problem for Michigan over the last two or three weeks. Virginia Tech and Texas both had strong finishes to the first half and UCLA managed to string together three made triples in the final 90 seconds to tie the game on Saturday night.

Michigan made unforced errors late in the half including a turnover that led to a transition intentional foul and that gave UCLA just enough of an opportunity to strike. The first two threes can be attributed to over-help and a weak closeout by Zak Irvin, but the final three by Lonzo Ball is one that you just have to shake your head and say what else can be done?

“(Lonzo) Ball hit that last one at the end of the half,” Beilein remarked. “We switched the screen, we did everything right, he was downtown.”

Ball hit that final three from right around the logo and buried it with 6 seconds till on clock. It’s the same shot he hit late in the first half against Kentucky and I’m not sure what else can really be done.

3. Early second half start

Another problem that has been developing into a trend: a slow start out of half time. Michigan seemed to make the right offensive adjustments coming out of the half, but just didn’t execute. The Wolverines were aggressive and attacked the basket, but they failed to finish. At the same time, UCLA was getting easier and easier baskets on the other end.

Despite keeping pace for the first 20 minutes the Wolverines quickly fell behind because of their offensive lapse. Michigan got a pair of DJ Wilson looks right around the hoop, a Zak Irvin scoop shot at the rim, an Irvin three and a wide open Moritz Wagner three. They didn’t fall, the lead ballooned to 8 and Michigan needed an early timeout.

4. Missed free throw rebound

Despite playing from behind throughout the second half, Michigan managed to put together a run and had cut the lead to just 5 points with 8 minutes to play. As the Bruins missed a pair of free throws, all the Wolverines needed to do was secure a rebound and they’d have a chance to cut the lead to a single possession.

Instead, DJ Wilson and Mark Donnal both got their hands on the ball but failed to secure the rebound. TJ Leaf secured the rebound and put it back in the basket to stretch the lead to 7.

“First of all it was a really high rebound and I think we had our hands on it,” Beilein said. “We have had a few of those, if we continue to learn that that ball is precious and you have to come away with it. I think it was DJ that might have had two hands on it… He gets that edge and it’ll take his game to another level.”

5. Aaron Holiday ices the game

Aaron Holiday hit five triples on five attempts off the bench and this one was the dagger. The Wolverines had just let the Bruins off the hook with the missed free throw rebound. Now instead of Michigan trying to cut the game to a single possession, Holiday was shooting a three to stretch the lead to double-digits.

Here Xavier Simpson gets caught trying to provide some unnecessary help and then runs right into a flare screen that leads to a wide open three for Aaron Holiday. The Bruins closed the game on a 25-12 run and for all intents and purposes this closed out the game.

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  • MAZS

    For obvious reasons, most of our 3 point sequences start with our taking the ball out of the net. Not something–on either end–one sees very often.

    • Yeah, I noticed that as well. Haven’t seen many halves quite like that first half, certainly not in person.

  • MrLG

    I think your game summary, and 5 key plays, understate the importance of the 4 second half blocks by Ike Anigbogu. In the first half Mich was very successful attacking the basket. But that all got plugged up by Anigbogu and the wheels fell off the bus.

    • Pretty sure I called that out in my recap, not specifically his 3 second half blocks, but that the difference in 2P% was important. UCLA got easier and easier twos, Michigan got tougher and tougher twos.

      The storyline was still Michigan’s defense was unable to stop them in both halves, not sure you can hold the offense to a 1.5 PPP standard.

      • MrLG

        The tougher and tougher twos were pretty much all due to one guy. My basic storyline is that UCLA is just much better. Mich showed up and competed and took away some positives. Mich discovered it could drive the hoop, DJ competed reasonably well at the highest level and Duncan didn’t s*ck either. I definitely see positives.

        • Just went back and watched the film.. He only affected one or two more other than the three he blocked. He wasn’t on the floor for DJ’s misses and wasn’t close to the action on MAAR’s misses at the rim. Duncan got pinned by him once and missed an uncontested bunny after driving by him that you could argue he was worried about him although he wasn’t even really there.

          • MrLG

            Not to belabor the point, but as soon as the blocks start, there’s a psychological impact, even when the dude has gone back to the bench. In general, Michigan is not very confident going to the hoop, and Anigbogu just made them give up.

          • I get what you are saying fundamentally, but Michigan took almost twice as many twos as threes in the second half and shot 13 FTs. It’s not like they were just settling for threes. They drove a lot, got shots around the rim a lot… didn’t do a good enough job of finishing. Some due to Ike, but other reasons as well IMO.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    i think Spike would have been huge to have this season…2 senior PGs since X is obviously not ready, im hoping by mid January he will be but at this moment it seems like Walton/Rahkman will be our guards for most of the game

    • bobohle

      Spike is injured again. Not to say Spike wouldn’t have hurt his back here.In the Purdue games I’ve seen he wasn’t getting an abundance of minutes off the bench.

      • Fab 5 Legends

        @ Michigan he would, if he was healthy…no question about it

    • Mattski

      Rest that crap. For once and for all.

      • Fab 5 Legends

        as of now, all freshmen are ineffective…a healthy Spike would help…lets talk after January ends…if X is not providing anything yet…we will have a very tired Walton heading into February…Spike knows the offense, if healthy he would produce more than X at this point

        • Mattski

          Sorry, I wasn’t trying to sound so harsh; it’s just that we can’t have him. Probably would be good to get Walton some rest. Can’t believe Beilein thought X would come along so slowly.

          • Fab 5 Legends

            Agree with your comment, I think Beilein did assume X would be a contributor at this point but he really does not trust him out there…only reason why I brought up Spike, in hindsight a healthy Spike could help this current team but that’s not the case he’s also injured @ Purdue lol, X just isn’t ready for this level yet

  • Fab 5 Legends

    i think we played up to our potential, it was competitive for most of the game…5 players in double digits…i would like more from Walton but it is what it is…Irvin played well as our go-to guy…UCLA is the best team in the country in my opinion and consensus final four team at them moment…barring injuries you do not want to see this team in March….i think this game will definitely benefit Michigan heading into BigTen play…where i think we should finish in the top 5

  • mikey_mac

    I know I shrugged off MAAR’s shooting slump last week, but on his 3PT make, you can actually see him trading his firstborn while the shot is mid-air.

  • Mattski

    I just watched the first one. :)