Michigan basketball: Observations on the Arizona loss

Michigan lost against the top team in the nation Saturday afternoon, falling to Arizona. The 72-70 loss saw Michigan lead for much of the game, but the Wildcats advantage in rebounds and some clutch free throws ultimately turned the tide in their favor.

The game was a strong litmus test for a 6-3 team coming off a big win over a cupcake program. Arizona came into the game 10-0 and beat a Duke team that Michigan had lost to.The teams both featured great players, and there was enough star power that 29 NBA teams had scouts in attendance. Michigan’s talent more than stood up to the test, leading by 9 at half and not relinquishing the lead until just under three minutes left in the game.

[Michigan loses heartbreaker to top-ranked Arizona]

“We can’t hang our heads down low,” said sophomore Nik Stauskas. “I think a month or two from now, we’re going to win those games.”

What we learned from the game: 

  • Glenn Robinson III can be your primary scorer when he is aggressively moving towards the basket. Robinson had 16 points in the first half, many of his points coming at the rim. Once he established his ability to score close-range shots, he began to hit his jumpers. He made both of his threes in the first half and hit a mid-range shot after a well-timed pump fake.
  • John Beilein is doing a good job of handling the point guard situation. Beilein rode Spike Albrecht’s hot hand, the point guard chipping in 10 points and four assists in an efficient 25 minutes. The box score doesn’t completely reflect his value, as he excited the crowd with a no-look pass on a Jon Horford dunk and hit some key shots from beyond the arc. Beilein doesn’t have to worry about a bad game from freshman Derrick Walton, Jr. because he has a great backup. Freshmen are bound to make mistakes and have bad games, Albrecht provides great consistency.
  • Caris LeVert had a monster second half, and has shown the crowd why he is Michigan’s best ball-handler. He had several crossovers that led to layups at the rim. Michigan has to find a way to get him and Glenn Robinson III going at the same time for Michigan to truly maximize its offensive potential.
  • The rebounding is still a problem. Michigan had 13 less boards than Arizona, and allowed Arizona to grab 17 offensive rebounds. Early in the game, Arizona converted on very few of their second-chance points. This changed in the second half, and was ultimately what helped propel the Wildcats to victory.
  • This was the loudest the Crisler Center had been since the Indiana game last year. Every timeout Arizona called after a Michigan run brought the crowd into a frenzy. The student section also had fun dressing up for the game, those not in maize were in costume. Making an appearance in the student section (packed to capacity, including the band’s seats) were two Teletubbies, two hot dogs, and a bear.
  • Brady Hoke attended the game with offensive coordinator Al Borges and linebacker coach Roy Manning. The football program feeds off the basketball team’s success, as Hoke uses games at Crisler as an activity for recruits. Michigan commit and five-star Jabril Peppers was in the stands, and he had his name cheered several times.
  • Dave Brandon elected to give away the band’s seats to students. The pep band was on break for exams, and the alumni band was supposed to perform. Instead, the athletic department decided to go with a DJ and give the space to students. It’s likely students would have been turned away from the game if not for this extra space. The classic Blues Brothers song sung by the student section was not the same without the pep band.

Michigan plays next Saturday against Stanford at the Barclays Center.

For more Michigan Basketball news, recruiting updates and opinion, visit our Michigan Basketball page. You can follow me on twitter @AdamRenuart

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