Isaiah Livers' health status remains uncertain for Michigan: 'We miss him'
Ann Arbor — The rematch between Michigan and Iowa likely will be missing a pair of familiar faces.
The Hawkeyes will be without senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season after having hip surgery last month.
Meanwhile, the No. 19 Wolverines remain in a holding pattern with junior forward Isaiah Livers, who is questionable to play with a left groin injury, heading into Friday night’s Big Ten battle at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Both (teams are) a little bit different than what we were the first time we played,” coach Juwan Howard said Thursday. “There are also two players — our player which is Livers, he's out. He played last time we played them and Bohannon, their point guard, is not playing and he played last game.”
When asked if Livers already had been ruled out and will be unavailable for the game, Howard clarified he meant that Livers has missed action since the two teams faced in the Big Ten opener on Dec. 6.
In that game, Livers finished with 14 points and six rebounds to help the Wolverines prevail in a 103-91 shootout, while Bohannon had eight points on 3-for-11 shooting.
“He hasn't been with us, so we're a different team when we don't have Isaiah,” Howard said. “I'm not quite sure if he's going to play tomorrow or not. We will continue to keep monitoring his progress, and he's getting better and better each day.”
Livers has missed the past four games with a groin injury after he landed awkwardly on a dunk attempt in the first half against Presbyterian on Dec. 21.
He was initially ruled out indefinitely on Dec. 27 before Howard said Livers was “basically day-to-day” on Jan. 3. Saturday will mark four weeks since Livers suffered the injury.
“I'm praying (Livers is) day-to-day, honestly,” Howard said. “We miss him. We need him. There’s no way possible where I've said that he's not a big part of this team. He's a huge part of this team, but we've always had the mentality that — and our players believe it, too — that whoever is out there on the floor, dressed and ready to go, we trust and believe each and every player will give us the best chance to win.”
Livers ranks second on the team in scoring (13.6 points) and still leads the Wolverines with 29 made 3-pointers at a team-best 50 percent clip. Without Livers in the lineup, Michigan has had its struggles spacing the floor and spreading out opposing defenses.
Sophomore forward Brandon Johns Jr. has started the last four games in Livers’ absence and is averaging 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24.8 minutes. Over that same span, the Wolverines have gone 2-2 with home wins over UMass Lowell and Purdue (in double overtime) and road losses at Michigan State and Minnesota.
"Our confidence as well as our belief has not changed. There is no doubt within our team,” Howard said. “We know no one is feeling sorry for us because we're losing one of our best players these last few games and we lost games without him. At the end of the day, we've got to keep fighting, keep plugging (away). We have a very confident group that's all about finding solutions, all about coming here and getting better.”
Michigan at Iowa
Tip-off: 9 p.m. Friday, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
Records: No. 19 Michigan 11-5, 2-3 Big Ten; Iowa 12-5, 3-3
Outlook: With three more assists, Zavier Simpson will pass Rumeal Robinson (575) for second on Michigan’s all-time assists list …. The Wolverines have lost five of the last six meetings at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. … Michigan (77 points) and Iowa (76.8) rank first and second in scoring offense in Big Ten play. … Iowa’s Luka Garza (22.3 points, 10.4 rebounds) is one of five players in the nation averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.