James Hawkins and John Niyo of The Detroit News break down Thursday's 63-44 loss to Texas Tech at the Honda Center and look ahead to next season. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Anaheim, Calif. — The offensive struggle was real.
Blocked shots, intercepted passes, contested jumpers, missed free throws, scoring droughts and a smattering of turnovers — No. 2 seed Michigan saw it all in the opening 20 minutes.
And in a meeting between the nation’s top two defenses, the Wolverines could never find their offense and fell to No. 3 Texas Tech, 63-44, Thursday at the Honda Center.
"It was a bad day to have a bad day against a really good Texas Tech team," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We got down so big and could not come back, a little bit like our Villanova loss last year."
Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis had 17 points and 13 rebounds and junior redshirt wing Charles Matthews scored 12 for Michigan (30-7), which shot 32.7 percent (16-for-49), committed 14 turnovers and made one 3-pointer on 19 attempts — a clanker by walk-on C.J. Baird with 22 seconds remaining.
The 44 points were Michigan’s fewest in an NCAA Tournament game and fewest in a game since it scored 42 in a loss to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 9, 2014.
After Michigan was held to a season-low 16 points in the first half by a Texas Tech defense that clogged the middle, it only got worse as the Red Raiders (29-6) opened the second half with a crushing 17-6 run.
During the spurt, Michigan missed two free throws, airballed a 3-pointer, committed three turnovers and didn’t make its first basket until over four minutes into the half. By the time all that ended, the deficit grew to 41-22 with 12:38 remaining.
"It was a little helpless at times because you know they're going to control the ball, they're not going to turn it over," Beilein said. "We're not a great team coming from behind. We all know we're a defensive team this year and we had trouble scoring points. And now we've got to score points and we're down (19). I thought we kept fighting and we did the best we could."
The Red Raiders' offense continued to take flight while the Wolverines were never able to get off the ground. Jarrett Culver scored seven straight points to fuel a 10-2 run to make it 53-29 with 8:42 to go and dash Michigan’s hopes of returning to the Elite Eight for the second straight season.
Culver scored 22, Davide Moretti 15 and Matt Mooney 10 for Texas Tech, which shot 51.9 percent in the second half and led by at least 19 points over the final 10 minutes.
"We were fortunate tonight," Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. "Michigan didn't shoot the ball well. But you have to give our guys credit. I love the way we were sharing the ball, getting assists, and we had nice balance. Several guys stepped up and made shots."
The game started out as expected with Michigan and Texas Tech digging in defensively and making life miserable for each team’s offense.
By the midway point of the first half, the teams combined to make just five baskets and the game was tied at 6. Over that span, Culver had a layup that snapped a six-minute, 35-second field-goal drought for Texas Tech and Matthews had a basket under the rim that ended a roughly five-minute scoring drought for Michigan.
"It can be demoralizing," Matthews said of all the missed shots. "We've should've stayed more mentally composed, but we were getting good looks. There were numerous amount of times I felt the ball went in the rim and rolled out. Stuff like that happens.
"It's all about how we responded, but we could've limited our turnovers as well. The missed shots definitely, I felt, drained some of our energy."
After the slow start, Texas Tech started to find its offense and made eight of their final 13 shots of the half. Michigan, though, only made back-to-back shots once when Brazdeikis converted a layup and junior center Jon Teske threw down a dunk that cut it to 18-14 with 2:40 left in the half.
By time halftime rolled around, Michigan found itself trailing, 24-16, after a miserable half where it shot 28 percent, went 0-for-13 on jump shots (0-for-9 from 3-point range) and had as many turnovers (seven) as made field goals.
"They really have a great (defensive) plan, which we don't see much, really pushing everything to the baseline," Beilein said. "We just weren't good at that. We picked up our dribble. There were a lot of things we worked on in two days of practice, but we couldn't get far enough to make a difference because that team practiced that defense for six months."