U-M Suffers Disappointing Setback at Home

Protecting the home floor is the name of the game in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines weren't able to do it Wednesday night versus the Iowa Hawkeyes. Despite a double digit halftime lead and a huge effort from Courtney Sims, the Maize & Blue suffered its first home loss in conference play, 69-62.

Coming off a two game road skid, it was important that the Michigan Wolverines hold serve at home Wednesday night against the Iowa Hawkeyes.  For one half they played like it. Senior big man Courtney Sims got the Maize & Blue off to a strong start, scoring the home team's first nine points to jump out to an early lead.  Six of those points came on three dunks thanks to excellent penetrate-and-dish moves by Michigan's wing players.  That efficiency would continue for Tommy Amaker's club throughout the rest of the first half.

After the Hawkeyes cut the lead to two at the 13:02 mark (9-7), Sims poured in six more points on a 19-7 run that was capped off by a fast break dunk by Ronnie Coleman to push the lead to 14.  Michigan's defense was equally stellar during the spurt, as evidenced by the six minutes, twenty four seconds Iowa went without a field goal.  The visitors finally got back on track in the waning moments of the half, but Sims added four more points down the stretch to head into the break with 19 and help the Wolverines maintain a 34-23 lead.

When the Wolverines emerged from the halftime locker room, they picked up right where they left off.  An early dunk from Brent Petway and a three-pointer from Coleman pushed the lead to 12.  Then, as has been the case in almost every game previous, the home team suffered through one of its proverbial droughts. 

Michigan outdid Iowa's first half ineptitude by going without a field goal for almost nine minutes (from the 15:04 mark to the 6:17 mark).  By the time Sims finally ended the cold streak with a lay-up, the Hawkeyes had outscored the home team 22-5 to take a 57-49 lead.  Steve Alford's club kept the Wolverines off balance by knocking down its three point buckets and then taking advantage of the subsequent overplays when Michigan tried to recover by finding wide open men going to the basket.

The Wolverines managed to dig in defensively in the final six minutes of the contest and clawed back to within one point.  Jerret Smith found Lester Abram for a wide open lay-up coming off of a screen to make the score 63-62 with 1:04 remaining.  That, however, is as close as they would get.  After an Iowa timeout, Hawkeye guard Tony Freeman drove the lane against Smith, drawing a foul and scoring the basket to push the lead back to four with 45 seconds remaining and the visitors went on to win 69-62.

"I thought our defense didn't carry us through the second half," Tommy Amaker explained afterward.  "I thought we came with a great energy to play the first 20 minutes. We were after it and I thought the score indicated that based on how we guarded and defended. I thought because we weren't making some shots it lets you down defensively. We didn't have the energy defensively in the second half and we kind of recaptured it at the end but it was too late to pull it out. But we didn't have a good shooting performance and it certainly didn't help us that our normal guys who we count on to score from the outside didn't carry us through today."

On the game the Wolverines were led by Courtney Sims' 29 points and 11 rebounds.  His fellow senior Dion Harris had a much rougher game, though, scoring only one point on 0/11 shooting.  Tyler smith led three Hawkeyes in double figures, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes.

Michigan will try to end its three game losing streak when it hits the road next week to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on February 6th. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm.


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