Michigan coach talks about his team's poor second half in Monday's 71-62 loss. James Hawkins
Michigan’s John Beilein has seen it all during his 39 years as a college coach.
Or so he thought.
During Monday’s 71-62 loss at Ohio State, the Buckeyes used an unheard of five-point play late in the first half to kick-start a 16-0 run and trigger a critical swing that erased a 20-point Michigan lead.
“I have not (seen a five-point play) until yesterday,” Beilein said during his weekly radio show Tuesday night.
The play in question occurred right after Michigan had taken its largest lead of the game, 43-23, on a Moritz Wagner 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining before halftime.
On Ohio State’s ensuing possession, forward Keita Bates-Diop buried a 3-pointer from the wing. But while the ball was in flight, guard Jaaron Simmons was whistled for a foul — Michigan’s seventh of the half — underneath the basket on Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson to put the Buckeyes in the bonus.
Wesson then went to the free-throw line and sank two free throws to complete the rare five-point trip. It started a string of seven straight Buckeyes points in 33 seconds to close out the half.
“What happened was we made a defensive mistake where we switched a screen to put a 5-foot-11 guy (Simmons) on a 270-pound guy (Wesson) and we switched it,” Beilein said. “But nobody anticipated the switch, so everybody was in full help. Then when they threw it back to a shooter, the guys that should've been recovering were still in the zone.
“So, when the ball was in the air, Jaaron slightly put his arm around the belly of the 270-pound guy and it had nothing to do with the play. But what the referee saw was an arm around the belly and that's always going to be a foul.”
According to Beilein, the explanation he was given is that the official who made the call didn’t know Bates-Diop had released a shot when he blew the whistle on Simmons.
“The ball was in the air, there it was — foul, basket is good and they get the two foul shots,” Beilein said. “They make them both, five points and all of a sudden (20-point lead) goes to 13 (at halftime) just like that. It's a mistake that we shouldn't have made and we made it.”
But it wasn’t the only one. Beilein cited other miscues from Monday’s meltdown, including a reckless pass Wagner threw to open the second half that had a “10 percent chance” of success, senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman drawing two defenders on a ball screen and not passing it to an open Wagner, and a blown up play out of a timeout that resulted in Wagner taking a poor shot with plenty of time still left on the shot clock.
"We had 20 fouls in the game. We had really bad fouls to put them in the one-and-one early,” Beilein said. “I'm just telling you — and this is my favorite saying — we get what we deserve. If we are not going to play smart, have careless fouls, throw careless passes and take bad shots then we're not going to win. That's the way it is."