Michigan fades to hot-shooting No. 2 UCLA

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — Through the first 35 minutes, Michigan kept pace with No. 2 UCLA.

The Wolverines withstood wave after wave and countered every offensive punch with one of their own.

But in the final five minutes, the Wolverines ran out of gas and UCLA raced away for a 102-84 win Saturday in front of a raucous sellout crowd at Pauley Pavilion.

BOX SCORE: UCLA 102, Michigan 84

Zak Irvin had 18 points to lead Michigan (7-3), which had its modest two-game win streak snapped. Duncan Robinson scored 13 and Mark Donnal 12 off the bench, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Moritz Wagner each added 11.

Freshmen phenoms TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball had 21 and 19 points, respectively, to lead UCLA’s high-powered offense, which shot 67.2 percent (39-for-58) from the field and had five players score at least 14 points.

“We knew that going into the game they had several players that were able to go out and get a basket at any point in time,” Irvin said. “We'd shut one guy down and then the other one would get going. You got to tip your hat.

“They made a lot of tough shots, especially in the first half and really throughout the whole game. It was just tough to handle.”

After exchanging blows and entering halftime knotted at 50, Michigan missed a pair of open looks as UCLA (10-0) started the second half with a 10-2 flurry to put the Wolverines in a 60-52 hole with 17:04 left.

Michigan appeared in danger when UCLA took a double-digit lead, 69-59, at the 13:01 mark, but the Wolverines continued to hang tough and countered with five straight points on a Donnal jumper, Abdur-Rahkman layup and a Robinson free throw to cut the deficit in half roughly a minute later.

Wolverines show free-wheeling side in loss to Bruins

The two teams traded baskets over the next four minutes as Michigan stayed within striking distance. But the Bruins made the Wolverines pay for their mistakes, converting on an offensive putback following two missed free throws and draining a 3-pointer off a blown defensive assignment to pull ahead, 82-72, with 7:23 remaining.

Derrick Walton Jr. hit a layup and two free throws and Irvin added a jumper to cut it to single digits, 87-78, but UCLA provided the dagger with a 7-0 spurt on two free throws and a 3-pointer by Bryce Alford (18 points) and a Leaf fast-break dunk to take control, 94-78, with 3:22 left.

The Wolverines never got closer than 15 the rest of the way and Michigan coach John Beilein waved the white flag, emptying the bench with 1:24 left and trailing 101-82.

"In the second half they got easy baskets. They had to earn all 50 points in that first half,” Beilein said. “In the second half, we gave up a transition basket right away where one guy did not get back on defense.

“We just had some blow-byes and they're really good one-on-one. They milk the clock and just attacked us. They played through Leaf a lot, who is a really good passer and sees people, but they're good at what they do."

Michigan showed early on it was up for the daunting challenge, opening 5-for-6 from 3-point range. However, UCLA countered every basket as the Wolverines held a slim 15-14 edge with 14:23 left in the first half.

It didn’t take long for UCLA’s high-octane offense to find its rhythm behind Leaf and Ball, rattling off seven straight points until Irvin hit a corner 3-pointer and mid-range jumper to keep Michigan close, 21-20, at the 11:41 mark.

UCLA went through a stretch where it seemingly couldn’t miss, pulling ahead for a seven-point lead twice before Michigan went on an 11-0 run to go on top. Wilson started the spurt with a 3-pointer and found Robinson on a backdoor cut for a reverse layup before Irvin capped it with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wolverines a 44-39 advantage with 3:19 left in the first.

After Ball was fouled on a 3-point attempt and ended the flurry by making two of the three free throws, Michigan kept its foot on the gas. Irvin had a layup and Wilson hit a jump hook over Ball in the paint to give the Wolverines a 48-41 lead with 1:13 left.

But Michigan’s lead evaporated within the blink of an eye as UCLA closed out the half on a 9-2 run with 3-pointers by Isaac Hamilton (14 points), Aaron Holiday (17 points) and Ball from well beyond the arc to even it at 50 and swing the momentum in its favor at the break.

“If you look at the stat sheet, they didn't miss too much and we did as much as possible to contest those guys,” Walton said. “They just made some great shots down the stretch. We just got to get back to the drawing board, play some defense and get ready for Tuesday (against Central Arkansas).”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins