ANN ARBOR, Mich. Melsahn Basabe put it on his shoulders. Aaron White blamed himself. Coach Fran McCaffery said it was turnovers. Devyn Marble gave credit to No. 21/25 Michigan. Take your pick, and you've got answer to an Iowa loss.
The No. 10 Hawkeyes were outplayed in their areas of strength in a 75-67 loss at Crisler Center last night. They gave up too many offensive rebounds, allowed too many turnovers and could not keep up with the silky shooting of Michigan guard Nik Stauskas.
Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, scored a game-high 26 points, including four 3-pointers. He was efficient with five assists, and with his inside-outside game, he consistently opened up the floor for his teammates.
It was a tough cover for White, a 6-9 forward, and Stauskas exploited him early. Stauskas had 15 points and four assists in the first half alone.
"He's one of the top players in our league. I respect his game; he's a good player," White said. "The tough thing about him is he can shoot the ball so well. He's also added another part of his game as he showed tonight he can take it off the dribble. It's kind of pick your poison. He got me on a couple of crossovers. I've got to do a better job on him."
"The amazing thing about him has been his consistency all year," McCaffery said. "He's obviously somebody that everybody marks. They get ready to play Michigan, yet he's still able to get shots out of the offense, get shots on his own. He's really doing a lot off the dribble. His length helps him there. He's got great range, obviously. He's tremendous."
Stauskas sizzled and nearly put the Hawkeyes away early in the second half. He drilled a 3-pointer, and ignited a 7-0 run that pushed Michigan up 54-43 with 14:05 left in the game. Iowa clawed back quickly, cutting the deficit to five with 10:25 left. But Stauskas sank a pair of free throws, and Zak Irvin followed with a 3-pointer and a layup to put the Wolverines back up 11.
That's when White, almost invisible for most of the game, stepped up for Iowa. He attacked the smaller Stauskas on defense and scored on four consecutive possessions. White dunked on one trip, stole the ensuing inbound pass and scored again. He scored on the next possession and following a rare Stauskas miss, Iowa burst up the court in transition down just 62-58.
Marble, who scored 13, elected to shoot a 3-pointer rather than attack the basket. He missed, and Stauskas converted it into a jumper than pushed the back to six.
"You want to get mad at Dev for shooting that 3, but I encourage him to be who he is and that is a guy who plays the game with a complete green light and has the confidence and comfort-ability to shoot the ball anytime he wants," McCaffery said. "He was open, he shot it. If it goes in, we probably win the game."
"Was I ever in rhythm?" Marble said. "I felt pretty good on all my shots."
Ultimately, White scored 14 consecutive Iowa points. One of his dunks cut Iowa's deficit to 67-64 with 2:56 left. But a basket by Glenn Robinson III, followed by six straight Michigan free throws sealed the game late.
White, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four early assists, was more disappointed by his early performance than excited about his late-game efforts.
"I know I'm one of the top players in this league, and I have to play like it every night," White said. "I think it finally clicked. To start off the game I was like I should be impacting the game a lot more than I was. They were sloughing off me, they were slagging off me, they were making me shoot, so I kind of fell into that trap. But with that lineup I don't think they could guard me down low. I tried to get easier buckets, I wasn't finishing like I usually do. I wasn't making my free throws like I usually do. I've just got to make a concerted effort to make an impact the game early on."
The loss took away from a solid performance from Basabe, who scored 17 points, including 15 in the first half. But Basabe, who played a season-high 31 minutes, said fatigue prevented him from competing at a high level in both halves.
"When the opportunity presents itself, you've got to be able to step up, no matter the circumstances," he said. "I'm not going to make the excuse that I'm not used to playing 30 minutes."
Iowa committed 14 turnovers and outrebounded Michigan just 33-32. Iowa entered the game No. 1 in Big Ten rebounding, while Michigan was last. The Wolverines grabbed 10 offensive boards, which led to 14 points.
"They got a lot of long rebounds," McCaffery said. "They're going to shoot a ton of 3s, and we didn't do a good enough job in that area.
"You can't turn it over 14 times and win here, I think, unless you're drilling 3s; 3s can overcome that. We only made two."