In another demoralizing moment for Michigan athletics and the basketball program specifically, the Wolverines lost 80-53 in a visit to Arizona they regretted from the moment they stepped on the floor.
Arizona ran the floor, dominated the paint and simply bullied Michigan, lacking in confidence following two embarrassing home losses to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, to a point when the game seemed like it began in garbage time. The Wildcats, improving to 10-0 this season, shot 58.2% from the field, punishing every turnover and miss with a quick fast break and usually what ended up in easy two points, often with a dunk.
Stanley Johnson led the way with 17 points, one of five Arizona players scoring in double figures. Gabe York with three 3-pointers, scored 15 points, just like Kaleb Tarczewski. Brandon Ashley, a player whose injury last season maybe cost Arizona a national championship, scored 10 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was influential as always off the bench, scoring 10 points to go with his 7 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Michigan got 14 points from Zak Irvin but were mostly looking lost and simply waiting for the flight home. Their bench scored just 11 points, they made only 35.2% of their shots and looked more abysmal than usual in the paint. Averaging 23.3 points per game under the basket this season, one of the worst in division I basketball, they scored just 16 against Arizona while the Wildcats finished with 42 on 21-of-31 from close range.
Michigan are averaging just 15.3 points in the paint through their losing streak. Arizona started the game on a 20-9 run, and Michigan’s attempts to bounce back through long range shooting and contested shots only rushed their quick and painful demise.
Far from the dominance of Kentucky, there’s a team out West that’s been just as impressive, just without the media hype that’s often reserved to the teams on the Eastern half of the United States. Arizona have now started 10-0 for a third consecutive season, the 4th team in the last decade to do so. The last team to accomplish that was Syracuse from 2009 to 2013, five straight years. Michigan, losing their fourth game this season, lost for a third straight time, and have only two weeks before the Big Ten gauntlet begins.
Today, Arizona showed they really have it all. It’s a great reality check for everyone. We know that we have a lot of work to do.