UM's tepid shooting leads to fourth straight loss
Ann Arbor — A tough nonconference season for Michigan is getting tougher, with a rare losing streak.
After losing by 27 points at No. 3 Arizona last week, UM was looking to bounce back and end its losing skid against Southern Methodist. But another lackluster effort led to another loss for the Wolverines.
With a seven-minute scoring drought down the stretch in the second half, UM lost its fourth straight, 62-51, to SMU on Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center.
It's the third straight home loss for Michigan (6-5) and the longest skid since a six-game slide in January 2011.
The Wolverines' offensive woes continued, as they shot 29 percent from the field and couldn't convert late in the second half, as the Mustangs steamed ahead. Zak Irvin had 17 points, Mark Donnal a season-high 13 and Derrick Walton Jr. 11.
"Part of my angst would be the 14 turnovers — we had 12 from our veterans," coach John Beilein said. "Let's credit SMU a little bit for speeding us up and making us play where we made some really tough decisions, some early shot selections and execution."
UM trailed for most of the game but moved ahead, 41-40, on Walton's 3-pointer with 10:37 left. The Wolverines took their largest lead, 48-45, on another Walton triple, but SMU (8-3) responded with a 17-0 run in the next six-plus minutes and took control of the game. Yanick Moreira (19 points) scored eight during the span.
Michigan didn't score again until Donnal's 3-pointer with 45.6 seconds left ended the drought, but the Mustangs' lead still was 11.
"Winning was a big thing on our minds, especially going down the stretch," said Caris LeVert, who finished 1-of-8 with four points. "We fought pretty hard; we just didn't execute."
UM averaged 9.5 turnovers but played sloppily, committing 14, which hurt the comeback attempt. LeVert had five turnovers, along with three from Spike Albrecht and two each from Walton and Irvin.
"We defended great the whole game. If you're going to have 20 turnovers against Michigan — as well as they shoot the ball and as well-coached as they are — you have to really defend to hold them to 51 points," said SMU coach Larry Brown, who coached the Pistons to an NBA championship in 2004. "Our defense was the difference."
Michigan fell behind early, as SMU hit its first five field goals. Nic Moore (17 points) hit his first four attempts — with three 3-pointers — and the Mustangs pushed out to a 16-10 lead in the first seven minutes.
SMU looked to pull away early in the second half, with 9-2 spurt to start the second half. But UM responded with a 9-0 run. Donnal had an off-balance jumper with the shot clock running out and followed with a putback and free throw on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to 39-38.
Beilein lamented the loss but said it's up to them to continue to improve and pull out of the nosedive.
"Most of these kids played on really good high school teams; some of them might not lose four in a season, much less four in a row," he said. "There's been times we didn't lose the fourth game until the middle of February.
"It's part of it and it's a great opportunity for us to be great mentors for them and teach them through this as we continue to transition here."