Irvin’s turnover on inbounds pass costly for Michigan

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

College Park, Md. — It’s been a little bit of an issue this season for Michigan.

And it was a big issue Sunday.

The inbounds play bit the Wolverines at a crucial moment of Sunday’s 86-82 loss to No. 6 Maryland at Xfinity Center.

With Michigan leading by one with 5:12 left, Zak Irvin struggled to find a man to get the ball in to, and ended up throwing it out of bounds.

Maryland scored the next six points to take a five-point lead, and never trailed again, denying Michigan, perhaps, the latest big victory it needed to finally secure its NCAA Tournament bid.

Michigan coach John Beilein was spotted screaming for Irvin to call a timeout, after the errant pass.

“We have to do better at what we run,” Beilein said. “The guy, he can’t move so everybody’s gotta have great execution of a plan. It takes one guy to blow it up.

“That’s where you’ve gotta call a timeout.”

Irvin turned it over again on the inbounds with 3 seconds left.

But the game was basically over at that point.

The earlier one was the big one.

Irvin, who had a good second half in the points department, scoring nine, wasn’t made available for comment after the loss. Neither was Derrick Walton Jr.

He had four of Michigan’s 16 turnovers; Walton had five.

“He feels bad,” Beilein said of Irvin. “He’s gotta make that adjustment, and we’ve gotta do a better job of teaching them how to execute what we’re trying to do.”

Donnal in ‘fifth gear’

Mark Donnal was a beast Sunday, scoring 25 points — one off his career high set in the Big Ten opener against Illinois.

It was against Illinois where Donnal first opened some eyes, and he’s been impressing more and more as the season has gone along.

“This is what we saw in the recruiting side with him,” Beilein said. “There’s another gear for Mark that you saw today. He’s not in second gear. He’s not in third, but he’s in fourth gear a lot.

“He’s got a fifth gear.”

Beilein said there were times Sunday when he was drawing up plays specifically for Donnal, which isn’t all that common.

After Donnal made a 3-pointer early in the second half, Beilein went back to the well.

And less than three minutes later, Donnal drained another 3 to put Michigan up by one.

“It felt good,” Donnal said. “I hit the first one and Coach B. had the confidence to draw up the same play.”

Donnal also had a career-high five blocks, as well as five rebounds, in 29 minutes. He was a plus-nine, the best among the Wolverines.

Positive attitude for Terps

As tough a loss as this was for Michigan, it was just as big a win for Maryland.

The Terrapins were coming off a crushing loss on the road at Minnesota, which was 0-13 in the Big Ten before stunning Maryland.

That came after a loss to Wisconsin, Maryland’s first home loss since 2014.

A third loss in a row could’ve rattled the team’s collective psyche heading into the NCAA Tournament for a team that has Final Four potential.

“I just told the guys we are a heck of a basketball team,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “Let’s don’t forget who we are, what we are about.

“A lot of coaches would love to be 23-5, love to be 23-5 and have the players that we have. I just try to be real positive.”

That positive attitude certainly rubbed off, the Terrapins said.

“Coach is great,” said Jake Layman, who had 16 points, including some huge 3’s. He wanted us to get back to having fun and being ourselves out there.”

Slam dunks

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had three steals, including two huge ones underneath Michigan’s basket on Maryland’s inbounds. Both led to big points in the second half.

“It’s one of those things I do, but only when the time presents itself,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “I knew they were just throwing the ball in, not looking.”

More impressive than the steals, though, were his nine assists, five more than his previous career high.

... It’s no wonder Maryland wins so much at home. The crowd is absolutely electric, and deafening.

“This is really tough,” Kameron Chatman said. “Their crowd’s really loud, and that just makes us have to become more of a team, just fighting out there.”

The crowd was even more pumped Sunday, with Maryland bringing back dozens of basketball alums, including former coach Gary Williams, who won a national title at Maryland in 2002.

... Maryland got 18 points from its bench, including two 3’s from Jared Nickens. Chatman’s two 3’s accounted for all of Michigan’s bench points.