No. 15 Michigan trailed by just one point at halftime to Virginia, but a 15-0 run from the Cavaliers and Virginia’s ability to slow the pace of the game gave Michigan a 70-58 loss in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up two early fouls and spent about 15 minutes of the first half on the bench after Michigan coach John Beilein pulled him out of the game. But even without Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines were able to keep it close -- something they weren’t able to do against Duke when the sophomore had zero first-half points.
The Cavaliers, who had 16 assists to Michigan’s eight, executed their offense mechanically against Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone defense and exploited the mismatches in the man-to-man, specifically with fifth-year senior Mike Scott. The 6-foot-8 forward picked up his third double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Virginia’s defense kept Michigan from establishing any rhythm and kept the Wolverines from scoring for nearly seven minutes in the second half. It was Michigan’s first true road game of the season, as the Wolverines got a very rude awakening from a spirited Virginia crowd.
1. Beilein ran with a deeper rotation. Twelve different guys played for Michigan, but there was no real bench production for the Wolverines. Outside of the starting five and senior guard Stu Douglass, only six points came from the bench. And those six points came in the final minute on 3-pointers by juniors Blake McLimans and Eso Akunne both hit 3-pointers after Virginia had already solidified its victory.
2. Foul trouble made major trouble for Michigan. Hardaway’s two early fouls kept him out of the first half and sophomore Evan Smotrycz, who scored 10 points, only played nine minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul early. He ended up fouling out with 1:35 remaining in the game, but Virginia was up 11 by that point. The Cavaliers attacked the paint and Scott drew fouls from several Wolverines. Virginia shot 17-for-22 from the charity stripe, while the Wolverines only got to the free-throw line seven times.
3. Hardaway Jr. never got going. Even when he came back into the game after halftime, the sophomore didn’t make up for lost time. The 6-foot-5 guard, who was averaging 15 points a game before Virginia, finished the game with five points off 2-for-9 shooting. He didn’t grab a single rebound despite playing 25 minutes. In Michigan’s loss to Duke, when Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless in the first half, he came out and exploded for 19 second-half points, but against Virginia there seemed to be a lid on the basket for the sophomore, as he struggled to produce.