Three takeaways from Michigan’s devastating loss to Arizona State

A 53-point second half performance on Wednesday night helped Michigan to the Legends Classic final against Arizona State. However, Michigan lost all of its mojo somewhere in that 24-hour period. The Wolverines came out uncharacteristically flat on Thursday night, and Arizona State jumped all over Juwan Howard’s team handing Michigan its first loss of the season in a game Michigan fans will hope to forget.

Here are three takeaways from one of Michigan’s worst basketball games in recent memory.

There are five starters for a reason

Kobe Bufkin posted a career high 14 points in Michigan’s first round win over Pittsburgh, but the sophomore was essentially a non-factor in the first half against Arizona State. The 6-foot-4 guard posted an empty stat line, save for one assist. He shot 0-5 from the floor and couldn’t string together two good nights. He came to life a bit in the second half, but finished with just five points on 1-9 shooting.

Terrance Williams was also absent in the first half. The juniors finished the first 20 minutes with an empty stat line. He shot the ball once, missed, and did not record a single rebound, assist, block or steal. The 6-foot-7 forward was getting his cardio in, but that’s about it on Thursday night. He finished with four points on 2-5 shooting.

Jaelin Llewellyn was less successful at point guard. Princeton’s transition from the Ivy League to the Big Ten has been a bumpy one, and it certainly didn’t get any smoother Thursday night. The 6-foot-2 guard was 2-6 from the floor, 0-3 from distance and scored five points on the night.

The three aforementioned starters combined for 14 points on the night. Dickinson and Howard carried most of the workload on the night, but trying five starters and three of them playing no part in the game is not a sign of success.

It was surprising to see such a lackluster departure from the team’s leaders on Thursday after such an attack on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh.

Protection must be improved

Arizona State scored 46 points in the first half. By that right there should be a lot said as a takeaway from this game. Sure, the Sun Devils couldn’t seem to go wrong in the first half, and they shot well in the second half as well, but Michigan’s defense was a concern on Thursday night.

The Sun Devils shot 60.4% from the floor and 57.9% from deep. They had a great shooting night, and that happens. However, Michigan came out flat and showed. Arizona State jumped out to a 10-point lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back.

The Wolverines looked slow around the perimeter and couldn’t find any defensive rhythm. Even when man-to-man wasn’t working and Juwan Howard made the switch to zone, the Sun Devils were still able to dice up the Michigan defense.

Arizona State shot the lights out tonight, but they are not a college basketball powerhouse. Michigan will get a little break coming up when it hosts Ohio and Jackson State, but if the Wolverines want to compete in the Big Ten and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, it will need to figure out its defense against teams. with even a modicum of talent.

Free throw shooting continues

Michigan picked it up in the second half, but the poor free throw shooting continues with this basketball team. The Wolverines shot 8-15 from the charity stripe in the first half, and finished the game 14-22 (63.6%) from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Arizona State missed just one of their 12 attempts, which was good for a 91.7% clip.

Of course, the game was not decided at the free throw line. Even if Michigan made all of its free throws, and Arizona State missed its share, this game still wouldn’t be close. However, Michigan’s free-throw shooting situation is a major concern for Michigan. Below is a complete breakdown of Michigan’s free throw shooting through four games this season.

Purdue Fort Wayne: 6-9 (66.6%)

Eastern Michigan: 25-40 (62.5%)

Pittsburgh: 12-18 (66.6%)

Arizona State: 16-24 (66.6%)

Michigan has yet to shoot better than 70% from the free throw line as a team this season. Poor free throw shooting may come back to haunt the Wolverines late in tight games. It almost saved them against Eastern Michigan, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of tight games throughout the rest of the season.

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