Robinson, Abdur-Rahkman 'save the day' for Michigan

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Michigan's Moritz Wagner brings down an offensive rebound against Iowa's Luka Garza and Tyler Cook in the first half. Wagner finished with 14 points in the Wolverines’ 74-59 victory Wednesday at Crisler Center.

Ann Arbor — With No. 8 Ohio State on tap and a pair of tough road games looming, Michigan was looking to build some momentum heading into the closing stretch of the regular season.

Fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson made sure the Wolverines got rolling in the right direction.

Robinson continued his recent 3-point resurgence and Michigan withstood a hot start from Iowa to take care of business with a 74-59 victory Wednesday at Crisler Center.

Robinson finished with 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range for No. 22 Michigan (21-7, 10-5 Big Ten), which has won four of five. Robinson is 10-for-15 from beyond the arc over the past two games.

BOX SCORE: Michigan 74, Iowa 59

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 18 points and seven assists, Moritz Wagner had 14 points and five rebounds, and Charles Matthews chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

“(Iowa) can really score in bunches and they're a tough matchup for us, so I was really proud of how our defense — although the percentage isn't great, the 12 turnovers in the first half allowed us to get away a little bit and then the second half we got enough to continue to stay with a good lead,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “I think (the zone defense) took us for a shock initially but Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali with seven assists and no turnovers, they saved the day.

“It's a really good win — 10th win in the league, 21 overall as we just continue to try and build a resume that has quality wins.”

More: Beilein hopes torrid touch follows Michigan home

After Michigan took a 13-point lead into halftime, the teams traded points during the first five minutes of the second half as the Wolverines found themselves responding to Luka Garza, who scored four straight field goals for Iowa.

Iowa (12-16, 3-12) eventually broke the trend with back-to-back baskets by Isaiah Moss and Jordan Bohannon to cut the deficit to single digits, 46-38, with 12:55 to go.

But within a blink, Robinson titled the game back in Michigan’s favor and buried three consecutive 3-pointers in a little over a minute for a 58-42 cushion at the 10:01 mark.

“We got a couple shooters on our team but no one like Duncan, who’s one of the best in the country,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “When he's hot like that, it adds a dynamic and different look for teams to try and guard, and it helps open up a lot of things for other people.”

More: Michigan’s Simmons gets into groove down the stretch

Michigan took its largest lead, 66-48, following a tip-in by Jon Teske and a free throw by Abdur-Rahkman with 5:33 remaining. Iowa never seriously threatened and trailed by at least 13 points the rest of the way.

Garza finished with 22 points (10-for-16 shooting) and Moss scored 12 for Iowa, which was held under 60 points for the third time all season and had 16 turnovers that led to 20 Michigan points. Tyler Cook, who scored 28 in the first meeting this season, was held to 10 points and 4-for-9 shooting from the field.

Iowa deployed an extended zone defense out the gate and Michigan struggled with it the first few minutes of the game. The Wolverines committed three turnovers on their first four possessions and the Hawkeyes scored the first seven points.

Michigan soon adjusted and began to push the pace after grad transfer Jaaron Simmons checked in for Zavier Simpson at the 17:22 mark. With Simmons at the point, Michigan countered Iowa’s fast start with a 19-7 run that featured 3-pointers from Isaiah Livers, Simmons and Wagner and ended with a steal and layup by Simmons to take a 19-14 lead at the 10:48 mark.

During the stretch, Iowa’s offense was a mess as it missed six of seven shots, turned the ball over six times and had a stretch where it went over three minutes without scoring a point.

“You can't go on the road and play Michigan and turn it over nine times in the first nine minutes because what they do is they take those live-ball turnovers and turn them into points,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We're up 7-0 and next thing you know we're down 13. You can't turn it over in the middle of the floor with a team with this kind of speed and a team that passes the ball this well.”

The turnovers kept coming for Iowa and Michigan continued to take advantage of the Hawkeyes’ lackluster transition defense, using back-to-back 3-pointers by Robinson and another deep ball from Wagner to make it 32-22 at the 5:28 mark.

The Wolverines extended their lead by holding Iowa scoreless over the final 3:34 and scoring the final five points of the half — highlighted by Robinson’s third 3-pointer — to take a 37-24 lead into the break.

“We got to continue to do what we've been doing,” Beilein said. “The games we have remaining are critical and they're huge. They're going to be against great teams, whether it's home or away. We got Senior Day at Maryland, we got Penn State, who is really playing well, and we got the game Sunday (at home) with Ohio State. It's going to be a lot of fun.”