Road woes continue: Michigan basketball comeback falls short at Arkansas
Updated 5:09 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Michigan basketball team nearly came all the way back again on the road.
The key word being nearly.
After falling behind by as many as 20 points in the first half and trailing by 13 with less than seven minutes to play, the 20th-ranked Wolverines found themselves with a chance to steal one on the road at Arkansas on Saturday.
The chance was missed, however, when freshman point guard Trey Burke missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Razorbacks a narrow 66-64 win.
"I looked at the clock and there was about three seconds (left)," Burke said. "So I took a step-back, (got the shot up), it looked good -- it looked real good.
"It just didn't go in."
The loss dropped Michigan (15-5) to 0-4 in true road games this season. The Razorbacks, meanwhile, ran their home record to a perfect 14-0.
It was the second time this month that Michigan erased a pair of double-digit deficits in a game. The Wolverines nearly stole a road game at Indiana earlier in January before falling by two.
"You've got to give them credit, they made plays, they hit some shots," said Michigan senior captain Zack Novak, who finished with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds. "We did some things we'd probably like to take back, but give the guys credit, we fought back and gave ourselves a chance at the end."
Sophomore forward Jordan Morgan chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds for the Wolverines, while Burke finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists -- but went just 6-of-19 from the floor.
Tim Hardaway Jr. struggled to find any consistency, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds on 3-of-8 shooting.
Arkansas put four players in double figures, led by B.J. Young's 15 points. Arkansas shot 65.4 percent from the floor during the first half before finishing 24-for-48 on the day. Michigan ended its night 25-of-61.
The first 10 minutes of the game couldn't have been a bigger nightmare for Michigan, and couldn't have been any more perfect for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas began the game 11-for-11 from the floor, sprinting out to a 29-10 lead after a Hunter Mickelson jumper, sending the sellout crowd of 19,050 at Bud Walton Arena into a frenzy.
"They came out and they made all their shots," said Michigan coach John Beilein, who called Arkansas the quickest team the Wolverines have played all season. "It's tough to simulate (their speed), now I know (what people talk about) when they play the Southeastern Conference in football."
The Razorbacks led by as many as 20 points in the first half, but Michigan held tough. A Novak 3-pointer late cut the lead to 13 at halftime.
Michigan stormed out of the gates in the second half, using a 10-0 run -- highlighted by three straight Morgan dunks -- to get all the way back within six at 49-43.
Arkansas responded, though. Minutes after Novak was whistled for a flagrant foul against Young, the Razorbacks used a 7-0 spurt to push the lead back into double digits, leaving the score 61-48 with 6:45 to play.
But as it had done all night, Michigan found a way back. Morgan and Hardaway racked up six straight points, then Burke and Novak hit back-to-back 3-pointers, capping a 12-1 Michigan run to make it a 62-60 game with just 3:37 left.
It was the closest the Wolverines had been since the game's opening minutes.
Unfortunately for Michigan, though, it would get no closer.
"Michigan made a run at us," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "But one thing we didn't do, we never relinquished the lead.
"Our players had something to do with that, and the atmosphere had something to do with that."
Mickelson made it a two-possession game again with less than a minute to play, rattling home a hook in the lane with the shot clock winding down, making it 66-62 Arkansas with just 42 seconds to go.
Burke hit a layup 18 seconds later to cut the lead to two, and Arkansas gave Michigan a golden opportunity after both Young and Julysses Nobles missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw attempt, giving the Wolverines the last shot.
Burke's 30-footer at the buzzer rattled in and out -- leaving the Wolverines with another road defeat.
"We were trying to get him downhill, try to get him to the basket or try and look for a three," Beilein said of the last play. "We were going for a two or a three.
"I thought it was short out of his hands, after watching literally millions of shots, I thought it would be a little bit short. ... It would've been nice if it had gone in."
After the Razorbacks ripped the nets during the first half, Michigan limited Arkansas to just 7-for-22 shooting during the game's final 20 minutes. Michigan also held a 35-29 edge on the glass, and out-scored Arkansas 30-26 in the paint.
But in the end, it's still a loss.
And Michigan was again left looking for answers on the road.
"We're a resilient team, but you've got to learn how to win (on the road)," said Novak, whose team will return to Big Ten play Tuesday at Purdue. "And we're going to do that.
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