Michigan point guard talks about his defensive effort and key plays made in Tuesday's 75-68 win. James Hawkins
Iowa City, Iowa — Sophomore guard Zavier Simpson had heard enough.
Leading up to Tuesday’s game, the Michigan coaches kept repeating and gushing over the same name in practice: Jordan Bohannon.
The effusive praise for Bohannon provided extra fuel for Simpson to silence and put the clamps down on Iowa’s sophomore point guard.
And it seemed to do the trick. Simpson hounded Bohannon, the Hawkeyes' third-leading scorer, and helped limit him to 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, with three assists and two turnovers in Michigan’s 75-68 streak-breaking win.
But of those 12 points, three were against starter Eli Brooks in the opening minutes and three came in the final seconds when the game was already decided.
“Bohannon is a great player, no question,” said Simpson, who tied for the team-high with 15 points and played 32 of the final 34 minutes. “There's nothing he can't do. But I mean it's to the point like they loved him. It was too crazy. Me, Eli (Brooks) and Jaaron (Simmons) were like this is getting out of hand because it was.
“They would compliment him so much. Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon. Sixty-minute mark, assistant coach is telling me Bohannon, 15-minute mark, 35-minute mark. Bohannon, Bohnnaon, Bohannon. I feel like it's my job to set the tone on the defensive end by playing great defense on the point guard and feel like it's a disease, so it'll spread.”
Simpson said he plays with a chip on his shoulder every game, but admitted it grew bigger due to the nonstop raving.
Once Simpson checked in with 13:43 left in the first half, he immediately began to try and take Bohannon out of his game.
Granted, Bohannon hit two of his next four 3-point attempts against Simpson. But after his second made 3-pointer with 3:23 left in the first, he wasn’t much of a factor the rest of the way.
Simpson forced Bohannon to miss his next four shots — all inside the arc — and completely shut him down in the second half, with his lone basket coming on a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
“It's a lot of fire built up because of how amazed the coaches are with a player,” Simpson said. “He's a great player, I'm going to be honest, but I just feel like the coaches were making it seem like he was the next Chris Paul. I just took pride in that and I take pride in all my defense, whether it's on Bohannon or the kid from Jacksonville. I just want to play my best ‘D,’ and want to override him and win my matchup."
According to Michigan coach John Beilein, Iowa's top scorer Tyler Cook (28 points) was going to get his points, but the key was limiting Bohannon and preventing a repeat of his past performance.
In last season's overtime loss at Iowa, Bohannon came out on top in the point guard battle and torched the defense for 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, including three made 3-pointers.
“Our whole thing was when we were here last year, Bohannon really had a day against Derrick Walton and Derrick Walton is playing for the Miami Heat now,” Beilein said. “Bohannon was a really good player last year against him. We said that can't happen again.”
Simpson got the message and made sure it was delivered.
For the second straight game, the Wolverines were slowed by lackadaisical turnovers in the early stages. Against Iowa, they turned the ball over five times on their first eight possessions.
In the nonconference finale against Jacksonville last weekend, Michigan turned it over four times in the first five minutes and 10 times total in the first half.
“We're just coming back from Christmas break, still getting the hang of things,” Simpson said. “A little sloppy but the good thing on that is we're playing good defense and that's what is important. I'd rather have those turnovers than bad defense.
“Once we get that together, which I'm sure we'll get it together, and we keep playing defense the way we're playing, that's when we'll really begin to flow.”
… Beilein became the second Michigan coach to reach 100 Big Ten wins. He joined Johnny Orr (1968-80), who holds the program’s all-time mark at 120.