March 12, 2009
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INDIANAPOLIS – The fourth time wasn’t a charm for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team Thursday afternoon inside Conseco Fieldhouse.
Three times prior to Thursday the Hawkeyes and the Michigan Wolverines have stared at each other in Big Ten Tournament competition and all three times the Hawkeyes were on the short end of the stick when the final buzzer sounded, including last year when UM sent Iowa packing for Iowa City with a 55-47 opening round defeat.
The teams were the same Thursday. And so, too, unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the outcome.
Final score: Michigan 73, Iowa 45.
This time Iowa was derailed by a white-hot Wolverine by the name of DeShawn Sims. The junior scored Michigan’s first 14 points en route to a career-high 27 in the game, a total the result of remarkable marksmanship by the 6-foot-8 Detroit native – 12 of 16 from the field and perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
As a team, the Wolverines shot 60 percent from the field including 10 of 20 three-pointers. Michigan was dropping shots at a clip of over 70 percent for much of the first half when they took full control of the contest.
Iowa, meanwhile, never got on track offensively, hitting just 15 of 43 attempts from the field. The Hawkeyes also committed 17 turnovers that resulted in 24 points for Michigan.
Aaron Fuller chipped in seven points and six rebounds for the Hawkeyes, who outrebounded the Wolverines, 28-23. However, Michigan’s total included 21 defensive rebounds – a statistic that speaks to the Wolverines’ determination to not allow the Hawkeyes more than one shot each time down the floor and, of course, their success on the offensive end of the floor.
UM also got 18 points from Manny Harris. He also grabbed seven rebounds and doled out eight assists.
The loss drops Iowa’s 2008-09 record to 15-17, a mark that includes five losses by five points or less. And five more by less than eight points.
The Hawkeyes entered Big Ten play with wins in 10 of 13 non-conference games including victories over intrastate rivals Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but an injury to Tate during Iowa’s 52-49 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 8 and a season-ending injury to Jeff Peterson at Wisconsin on Feb. 11 proved difficult to overcome.
“This is a team that competed at a good level for the vast majority of the season considering all that it went through. Today we simply ran into a team we just couldn’t challenge. We just didn’t have the answer for them defensively,” said second-year Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter.
“It’s hard when you’re competing to gauge progress when you’re not winning,” Lickliter added. “(Cyrus Tate and Jake Kelly) have helped set a very solid foundation for us to continue build on. I’m proud of this team and the way they’ve responded all season.”
Michigan improved to 20-19 and will meet Illinois Friday in the first game of the evening session on Friday in Conseco.
Michigan raced to a 40-19 first half lead thanks in great measure to Sims’ perfection: The Wolverine scored 18 points – three better than his season average – on 8-of-8 shooting from the field and a pair of free throws.
Michigan shot a blistering 68 percent from the field, knocking down 15 of 32 field goal tries including five of 10 from behind the arc. Iowa made just six of its 22 first half field goal tries, a 27 percent clip. Devan Bawinkel paced the Hawkeye offense with six points off a pair of three-pointers.
“I’ve sensed over the last month that we were close to finding our rhythm. I thought we were playing well even though we lost some games but I dind’t expect us to play this well. We played a tremendous game,” said Michigan Coach John Beilein.
After falling behind by 16, Iowa cut it to eight at 25-17 when Cole took a feed from Tate and muscled up a lay-up with 5:54 left before intermission. From this point on, it was all Michigan with the Wolverines riding Sims and the momentum he created to 13 unanswered points.