IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was the game John Beilein and his staff feared could come during the season. Everything went wrong for No. 5 Michigan (20-2, 9-2 Big Ten) in the first half on Friday night, and the Hawkeyes took advantage, riding a 21-2 run to put Michigan down big, too big for the Wolverines to come back from as Iowa (16-5, 6-5 Big Ten) upset Michigan 74-59 Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Early foul trouble sent Michigan scrambling for answers. Jon Teske (8 points, 8 rebounds) was called for his first less than two minutes into the game and sat down. Within three minutes of taking the floor, Isaiah Livers was called for two personal fouls of his own and took a seat. By the time Teske checked back in midway through the half, he was charged with another foul trying to stop Iowa big man Tyler Cook (7 points, 8 rebounds) from delivering a thunderous dunk. Teske managed a stat line of two fouls and one minute on the floor through the first twenty minutes Friday. John Beilein found himself scrambling for solutions as the fouls piled up, Brandon Johns and Austin Davis came in but did not solve the issue, even freshman Colin Castleton saw his first meaningful minutes of the season, but was not able to slow down Iowa forwards including Cook, Luka Garza (19 points) and Ryan Kreiner (15 points off the bench.) The Hawkeyes carried a 42-29 lead into the locker room.
The bright spot for Michigan early was the play of freshman Ignas Brazdeikis (16 points, 6 rebounds) who scored the team’s first nine points en route to a 12 point first half in the opening ten minutes before his shooting went cold. The streaky performance is something we’ve seen from Brazdeikis before, but his play in the opening minutes was vital to Michigan before Iowa went on its incredible run. The problem for the Wolverines was that behind Brazdeikis, the offense was non-existent until the game was out of hand. Michigan shot a season-low 32.3 percent from the field. Jordan Poole (16 points) and Zavier Simpson (10 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) were other stat sheet bright spots for Michigan.
The second half picked up where the first left off, but after a start that saw the two teams go a combined 2 for 13 from the field, things started to shift. Iowa took a 50-35 lead at the 14:14 mark when Kreiner made a layup to give his team its biggest lead of the day. From that point forward, spurred on by the play of Jon Teske and Charles Matthews, Michigan ripped off a 9-2 run including a three-pointer from Matthews to close the gap to eight. Michigan came as close as five when Teske collected a Matthews miss for a second chance layup to get Michigan to 54-49.
Iowa, with memories of its second-half collapse against Michigan State last Thursday at home, reasserted itself at that point. After the Wolverines drew to within five, Iowa went on an 8-2 run that put the Hawkeyes back up by double-digits 62-51. From there, the Hawkeyes didn’t look back as they kept on piling up points, becoming the first Big Ten team to score 70 against Michigan this season, and first since South Carolina put up 78 on Michigan nearly two months ago in Ann Arbor. Teske fouled out with 3:15 to play, marking the first time this season a Michigan player has fouled out, and the first time Teske has fouled out in his 81 game Michigan career.
Carver-Hawkeye Arena has been an unfriendly place to Michigan for much of John Beilein’s tenure. The Wolverines are now 4-6 in Iowa City under Beilein, with just one win since 2011 (2018.) Michigan faces a quick turnaround and needs to figure out its offensive woes before facing a red hot Rutgers team in New Jersey on Tuesday. The Scarlet Knights have won three Big Ten games in a row heading into Saturday’s game at Ohio State, but more importantly, are a Top 25 team in defensive efficiency per KenPom. Iowa ranked outside the Top 100 and handily beat Michigan by double-digits, partially thanks to the Hawkeyes employing some 2-3 Zone, something that has flustered Michigan at times this year.
It’s now back to the drawing board for Beilein and company this weekend. This game was not the start to February Michigan wanted, but similar to Wisconsin, it gives Michigan a chance to get introspective, dig deep, and pick itself back up after a loss. The upcoming week is an important one for Michigan as the game at Rutgers will be a tricky matchup, followed by a rematch with Wisconsin at Crisler Center on Saturday. It’s unlikely that Michigan is going to find itself in the same kind of foul trouble it got into in Iowa City, but it does show that Beilein needs to work more on his rotation if Michigan wants to still contend for the Big Ten Championship and make another deep NCAA Tournament run. Michigan still has work to do as the Wolverines enter the back 9 of the Big Ten slate, and that work will begin Saturday as the team prepares for Rutgers.