Michigan basketball team fails to counter on the road, big minutes for Burke, interior woes and more notes
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Michigan basketball team said all the right things prior to leaving for Virginia.
They explained how they understood the environment in Charlottesville's John Paul Jones Arena would be hostile, unfriendly and even dangerous at times.
The 14th-ranked Wolverines had played away from home already this season on a neutral floor in Maui, but Tuesday would be different.
For the opening 28 minutes, Michigan appeared to be true to its word. But when the lights finally came on, and the Cavaliers threw a punch, the visiting Wolverines seemed helpless.
"This is the type of lesson we have to learn," Michigan senior guard Stu Douglass said following the 70-58 loss to Virginia.
Virginia's decisive 15-0 second-half run wasn't a blitzkrieg. It was a slow, methodical collapse.
Michigan found itself up five and feeling good after Tim Hardaway Jr. finally broke through with 13:42 to play, but from there, nothing went right.
Virginia took nearly two full minutes to tie the game, a stretch that featured two Wolverine misses and a turnover. From there, it took the Cavaliers another two minutes to pull ahead, another stretch that featured two misses and a turnover from Michigan.
The Cavaliers would eventually go up four, prompting a John Beilein timeout, but the bleeding didn't stop.
Michigan continued to get empty possessions on offense, allowing Virginia to slowly pull ahead -- finally, nearly six minutes after the run's first basket, Mike Scott hit a baseline jumper to make it a nine-point game, prompting another timeout.
That stoppage didn't work, either. Hardaway immediately missed a jumper before Joe Harris knocked down a triple to push the lead to 12 with 6:44 to go.
From there, the game was over.
It was a slow-rolling snowball taking nearly seven minutes of game-action. The momentum kept building, the home crowd kept yelling and Michigan just kept missing.
"We needed to come out and make sure that, offensively, we got a good shot (during Virginia's run)," Beilein said. "We needed to calm down and get a good shot. ... It's 'OK, calm down, we've got to guard at one end and make plays at the other.'
"It's not rocket science."
Beilein made a point of saying he wasn't overly worried with his team's play, as long as players learn from their mistakes.
Unfortunately for Michigan, though, the Wolverines won't be able to truly show they've learned from Tuesday's errors until Jan. 5 -- Michigan's next true road game, at Indiana.
"We're still pretty young and they had some good seniors," Douglass said. "But we've got to take a lot of things from this."
To this point in the young season, freshman point guard Trey Burke hasn't seemed to have an issue with playing heavy minutes.
He played 33 minutes Tuesday at Virginia and is averaging 31.6 minutes this season. His numbers are fine (11 points, four assists per game), but that doesn't mean Beilein's not conscious of continuing to find breaks for his young floor leader.
With Hardaway in foul trouble Tuesday, Beilein turned to Ann Arbor native Eso Akunne to spell Burke in the first half. In other situations, Michigan seems to spell Burke with a combination of Douglass and Hardaway.
"We're trying to teach on the run with him a little bit, but I'm really happy with how he's playing," Beilein said of Burke. "(But) I'd like to get him more rest."
Michigan sophomore Evan Smotrycz had a productive game in the paint for Michigan on Tuesday, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds on 4-of-4 shooting.
There were two problems there, though: He eventually fouled out and he got very little help.
Sophomore forward Jordan Morgan finished with five points and five rebounds, but also turned the ball over three times. Sophomore Jon Horford missed both of the shots he took, coughed up one turnover and did not pull down a rebound in six minutes of action.
Blake McLimans saw action early, but did little on the stat sheet. The same goes for Colton Christian, who missed a shot, missed two free throws and had two fouls in five minutes.
Virginia, meanwhile, had its way inside. Senior big man Mike Scott finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and 10 of Virginia's 36 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Conversely, Michigan finished the day with only three offensive boards -- meaning that Virginia rebounded 93 percent of the Wolverines' missed shots.
Odds and ends
Announced attendance Tuesday was 10,564. ... Virginia honored former standout center Ralph Sampson at halftime for his recent induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. ... Matt Vogrich finished 0-for-2 from 3-point range and is now just 1-for-10 on the season.
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