ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) With its lead shrinking and the opposing crowd buzzing, Iowa’s Mike Gesell stole the ball from Zak Irvin and went the other way for a layup.
The Hawkeyes stayed a step ahead of Michigan all night.
Jarrod Uthoff scored 16 of his 29 points in the first half, and No. 16 Iowa snapped a four-game losing streak with a 71-61 win over the Wolverines on Saturday. Derrick Walton scored 14 points for Michigan, but the Wolverines may now need a strong showing in the Big Ten tournament to make it to the NCAAs.
”We did a much better job down the stretch,” Gesell said. ”On our little losing streak we had, we were absolutely terrible the last five minutes of the games. We really focused on that, regrouped and we were much better tonight.”
Anthony Clemmons scored 12 points for the Hawkeyes (21-9, 12-6 Big Ten), who used a 14-5 run to take a 15-point lead with 10:13 to play. Michigan (20-11, 10-8) scored the next 10 points, but Gesell halted that run with his steal and layup. After Walton made a basket for Michigan, the Hawkeyes pushed the ball up before the Wolverines could get back on defense. Clemmons was open in the left corner and sank a 3-pointer to make it 64-56.
”We’re always going to try to play as fast as we can. We’re always going to look ahead and attack,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. ”We try to get down before they set.”
Michigan honored seniors Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht before the regular-season finale. They’re both out for the season with injuries, which is a big reason the Wolverines are in this predicament.
”What team wouldn’t be hurt?” Walton said. ”We don’t make an excuse. We just know that those minutes that they have and experience that they have is irreplaceable.”
Uthoff scored eight quick points, and Iowa jumped out to an early 15-5 lead. It was 36-30 at halftime, and Michigan was never able to catch up in the second half.
Iowa won 12 Big Ten games for a second consecutive season. That’s only happened two other times for the Hawkeyes, in 1982 and 1988.
Defense has been a problem for Michigan this season, but the Wolverines were able to get back in this game with a 1-3-1 zone that flustered Iowa. It was actually Michigan’s offense that cost the Wolverines. They shot 36 percent from the field and 8 of 34 from 3-point range.
Michigan has lost four of five.
Michigan was ranked No. 67 in the RPI after the game, according to rpiforecast.com. Coach John Beilein said he hasn’t studied what other bubble teams are doing, but it’s obvious that the Wolverines are in an increasingly precarious spot.
”I think we have to play really well in this tournament right now,” he said. ”I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Gesell had six points and 11 assists for Iowa, which turned the ball over only eight times. He said Uthoff’s sharp shooting made everyone look good.
”He couldn’t miss tonight,” Gesell said. ”That’s a point guard’s dream when he gets going like that. I just kept loading him up.”
Iowa: Uthoff was 4 of 10 from 3-point range, while the rest of the team went 4 of 18. … Adam Woodbury scored nine points with 11 rebounds.
Michigan: Freshman Fred Wright-Jones, who has been a manager and practice player the entire season, was allowed to suit up for the game. … Michigan outrebounded Iowa 43-35.
Iowa and Michigan both move on to the Big Ten tournament. Michigan finished eighth in the regular season. Iowa could end up tied for third if Maryland and Wisconsin lose Sunday.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister