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'We wanted it bad': Balanced Michigan steamrolls Iowa in Big Ten tournament

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Michigan's Charles Matthews, front, celebrates with Zavier Simpson after scoring a 3-point basket during the first half.

Chicago — In the first meeting, Iowa saw Michigan at its worst.

The second time around, the Hawkeyes got to witness the Wolverines at their best.

Michigan put on another vintage tournament performance and picked apart Iowa to cruise to a 74-53 victory in Friday’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinals at the United Center.

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis finished with 15 points to lead five players in double figures for Michigan, which set a tournament record with its ninth straight win.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers scored 13 and sophomore guard Jordan Poole added 11, while junior center Jon Teske (12 points, 10 rebounds) and junior guard Zavier Simpson (10 points, 11 assists) each recorded a double-double.

No. 10 Michigan (27-5) will move on to face Minnesota, a 75-73 winner over Purdue, in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We wanted it bad," Brazdeikis said of getting another crack at Iowa after the 15-point loss on Feb. 1. 

"After that game, Coach B (John Beilein) said, 'Man, it sucks we're not going to be able to get them back this season.' The opportunity arises and we stepped up."

More appropriately, Michigan stepped on Iowa's throat and never let up. After the Wolverines got rolling in the first half, nothing could seemingly slow them down — not even a string of whistles early in the second half.

Unaffected by foul calls that landed redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews and Poole on the bench, Brazdeikis buried a 3-pointer to spark a 15-2 run that put Iowa in a hole it could never resurface from.

Michigan put the clamps on Iowa during the flurry and essentially got anything it wanted on offense, with Brazdeikis adding a three-point play and Simpson putting it away with a running hook to make it 59-35 with 13:44 to play.

The Hawkeyes could never put a dent in the deficit that grew to 72-46 on a three-point play from Brazdeikis with 4:25 to go, especially on a night the Wolverines shot 45.2 percent (28-for-62), recorded 24 assists and made 10 3-pointers.

And everything that hamstrung Michigan back in the lone regular-season meeting — overwhelming foul trouble, woeful perimeter shooting and stagnant stretches — was never a problem on Friday.

"We were just intense out there," Brazdeikis said. "We didn't let down at any second of that game. We were the hungrier ones out there. Even if they got an upper hand on us, we didn't let go. We kept fighting."

Luka Garza and Tyler Cook each had 14 points for Iowa (22-11), which shot 35.6 percent (21-for-59) and a season-low 6.3 percent (1-for-16) from 3-point range one day after making 12 3-pointers against Illinois.

"You've got to give some credit to our opponent for that, but typically we're not going to be a team that goes 1-for-16," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "It changes the momentum shifts in the game."

Michigan showed it was ready to defend its conference tournament throne by hitting three 3-pointers — two when Iowa switched to a 2-3 zone — and turning turnovers into points to grab a 17-10 lead with 14:19 left in the first half.

Even after Michigan missed eight consecutive shots and went roughly six minutes between made field goals, Iowa could only pull within one before sophomore guard Eli Brooks drained a 3-pointer to make it 21-17 at the 8:14 mark.

That kicked Michigan's offense back into gear and helped the defense turn it up a notch. During one stretch, Teske blocked a shot and saved it from going out of bounds before throwing down a dunk at the other end.

Shortly after that, Brooks knocked the ball off Iowa’s Isaiah Moss to force another turnover as Michigan closed the clinical first half on a 13-4 run for a 40-27 advantage at the break.

"Honestly the first game we had (against Iowa) we weren't fond of the outcome, but we weren't able to really show them because we were in foul trouble," Poole said. "(Tonight) we showed what we're capable of."

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins