Men’s Basketball: Wolverines Kick Off New Year with Big Ten Road Win at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Michigan men’s basketball team led by as many as 18 points en route to opening 2018 with a 75-68 win at Iowa on Tuesday night (Jan. 2) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. After starting Big Ten play with a 1-1 mark in 2017, the Wolverines are now 2-1 early in conference action.

Michigan had four players score in double figures, led by sophomore Zavier Simpson and senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 15 points each. Junior Charles Matthews posted 14 points and Michigan got a career-high 13 points from freshman Isaiah Livers, including a career-best three triples. Tyler Cook paced Iowa with a game-high 28 points on 10-of 15 shooting.

As a team, Michigan recorded 18 assists, putting up 15 or more for the 10th time this season. Simpson, who played a career-high 32 minutes, led U-M with seven dimes while not committing a single turnover, while Abdur-Rahkman recorded six assists — all in the first half. Abdur-Rahkman, Matthews and sophomore Jon Teske each grabbed seven rebounds.

Both teams got off to a slow offensive start and the Hawkeyes led for the majority of the first six minutes of play. Teske provided a spark off the bench with four points, then Abdur-Rahkman grabbed a long defensive rebound and assisted Livers on an alley-oop dunk to put Michigan back in front, 12-10, at the 12:07 mark.

The Wolverines then went on a 16-2 run to increase their lead to 15 with 8:11 to go in the opening half. Abdur-Rahkman scored or assisted on 10 points during that run, including a pair of triples to start it. He also recorded a steal and found Simpson for a transition layup, during which Simpson was fouled and completed the three-point play and assisted on a bucket from junior Moritz Wagner. Simpson then took over, sinking a three pointer, taking a charge on the defensive end and hitting another triple in consecutive possessions to make it 29-14, Maize and Blue.

Michigan continued its hot three-point shooting, as fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson and freshman Jordan Pooleeach connected from long range. At that point, U-M was shooting 70 percent (7-for-10) from three-point land.

Iowa went on a quick 6-0 run to trim U-M’s lead to 35-27, exciting the crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Michigan responded with a 9-0 run, highlighted by five points from Livers to help silence the crowd. A dunk from Matthews capped the run with an exclamation point and gave U-M its largest lead of the half, 42-17, with 3:30 remaining. Iowa ended the first half on a 6-0 run to make it 48-36 Wolverines at the break.

The Wolverines shot 62 percent (18-for-29) from the field in the first half and got 27 of its 48 points from its bench, compared to just eight points from the Hawkeyes. Sharing the ball was key to U-M’s success in the first half, as it assisted on 15 of its 18 field goals (83 percent), led by six assists from Abdur-Rahkman.

Iowa started the second half with five quick points to trim Michigan’s lead to seven, 48-41 — the smallest deficit for the Hawkeyes since midway through the first half.  Once again, Livers helped swing the momentum in U-M’s favor, hitting a corner three to kick off a 7-0 run in less than a minute to put the Wolverines up, 59-43, with 12:36 to play.

With less than seven minutes to go in the game, Michigan led, 64-54, before Abdur-Rahkman scored seven unanswered points to boost the Wolverines’ lead to 17, 71-54, at the 6:17 mark.

Late in the second half, the Wolverines struggled on the offensive end, missing five straight field-goal attempts, while Iowa strung together a 9-0 run to make it a single-digit game once again. Matthews scored U-M’s only four points following the last media timeout at 3:48, but the Wolverines’ 17-point second-half lead was too much for Iowa to overcome and Michigan prevailed.

Next up, Michigan will host Illinois on Saturday (Jan. 6) at noon live on BTN. Saturday is Social Media Day at Crisler Center — come post, tweet and snap alongside the Michigan Athletics and Michigan Basketball social media platforms. Some of the features will include tweeting song suggestions, the “Emoji Fan Cam” and photo opportunities on the concourse. Fans can purchase a game ticket and Michigan basketball Emoji T-shirt for $30. [ Purchase Tickets | More Promotions ]


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