Youthful Michigan Fails First Road Test
AMES, Iowa (AP) — In its first road test of the season, Michigan’s youth showed up in a glaring way.
Iowa State got 22 points from senior Melvin Ejim and rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 8 1/2 minutes to beat the seventh-ranked Wolverines 77-70 on Sunday.
Ejim and senior guard DeAndre Kane, who transferred in from Marshall, proved to be too strong for a Michigan team that relies heavily on five sophomores and a freshman.
“We’ve got basically younger guys out there every time guarding between (Ejim) and Kane,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “They’re just really experienced players and they did a great job attacking us off the dribble.”
Naz Long added 16 points and Kane scored 13 to help Iowa State (3-0) ruin the debut of Michigan’s Mitch McGary, who missed the first two games with a lower back injury. McGary, a preseason All-American who starred in last year’s NCAA tournament, finished with nine points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.
McGary had only one full practice before Sunday and it showed at times as the Wolverines (2-1) struggled to find the right chemistry. The 6-foot-10 sophomore scored only one point in the second half.
“There were a lot of things thrown off today,” Beilein said. “But I’m not taking that away from Iowa State.”
Nik Stauskas led Michigan with 20 points and Derrick Walton Jr. had 13. Glenn Robinson III was held to 12 points on 4 of 14 shooting.
The Wolverines, whose perimeter shooting is a big part of their game, made just 8 of 29 shots from 3-point range.
“Obviously I think we’re a better team when we’re making 3s,”” Stauskas said. “But we were getting really good shots today and those were shots that guys normally make. So we’re not going to be too worried about that. We’re just going to get back in the gym, get some more shots up and hopefully the next game those shots will go down for us.”
Ejim, who also played for the first time after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee, added nine rebounds as Iowa State closed the game on a 23-10 run to give coach Fred Hoiberg one of his biggest wins in front of a raucous, sellout crowd.
Michigan kept threatening to pull away from the Cyclones in the second half — especially with Iowa State forward Georges Niang on the bench with four fouls.
Ejim kept the Wolverines from doing it.
Stauskas took a loose ball and flushed it home with an emphatic one-handed dunk, only to watch Ejim answer with a 3. Spike Albrecht then hit a layup, and Ejim responded with a jumper.
Kane followed with a 3, and Long’s 3 capped a 13-2 run that gave the Cyclones a 67-62 lead with 5:00 left.
“Once they got the lead, the building gets jumping,” Beilein said. “We missed some pretty good shots during that time that could have quieted them. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Dustin Hogue added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Iowa State, while Kane had six assists and five rebounds.
When McGary and Ejim entered play together with 16:17 left in the first half, no one was quite sure how healthy either one of them was.
But by the end of the half, it was clear they were the two best players on the floor.
McGary jumped a passing lane and maneuvered through Iowa State’s defense for a transition layup, one of four field goals he had in the first half. Ejim, a preseason first-team All-Big 12 pick, gave the Cyclones a huge boost off the bench with 12 points and five boards his first 10 minutes of action.
McGary couldn’t keep it up in the second half, though — while Ejim helped key Iowa State’s late surge.
Ejim’s return was among the many reasons that Sunday’s matinee was one of the biggest non-conference games Iowa State has ever hosted.
Hilton Coliseum sold out in less than 10 minutes when tickets went on sale last month. A school-record 22 NBA scouts requested credentials as well, no doubt hoping to get a glimpse of McGary and Robinson.
The Cyclones also brought back former coach Johnny Orr, who left Michigan for the Cyclones in 1980.
Though Michigan looked to be on the verge of pulling away more than once, Iowa State rallied to score a win that’ll likely come in handy come March.
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