No. 20 Michigan aims for bounce-back win vs. Tarleton State

NCAA Men

Eli Brooks and Michigan’s upperclassmen have gotten used to winning big. Brooks, however, doesn’t anticipate that one lopsided loss will linger for very long.

The Wolverines dropped an 80-62 decision to Arizona in the championship game of the Roman Main Event on Sunday in Las Vegas.

The setback was the second of the week for Michigan, which dropped a two-point decision to Seton Hall on Tuesday. The Wolverines tumbled from No. 4 to No. 20 in the latest poll.

“We’ve just got to stay the course,” Brooks said. “We’ve got to buy into our habits. The formula worked in past years, so you just lock in to what Coach (Juwan Howard) teaches you and apply it. It’s proven to winning championships.”

Michigan (3-2), which won the Big Ten regular-season title in 2020-21, will host Tarleton State (1-4) on Wednesday.

The Wolverines’ offense stalled against the Wildcats. They made 43.4 percent of their field goals overall but went just 1-for-14 from 3-point range.

“At times, we were just not in the right spots offensively,” Howard said. “There was a sense that three guys knew what we were going to run and two didn’t, or four knew and one guy didn’t. We had a lot of mental mistakes. I don’t know if maybe it was because of the fatigue factor because that’s the only thing I could think of — that the mental fatigue was one of the things that settled into our group.”

The Wolverines shot 51.0 percent when they defeated host UNLV by 13 points on Saturday.

Arizona’s starting frontcourt has two players 6-feet-11 or taller and two wing players 6-6 and 6-7. Howard felt the Wolverines tried too hard to score over those large defenders.

“We didn’t do a really good job of going after their length,” he said. “At times, we forced the issue by driving and trying to finish over the top of their length instead of driving and kicking. I love the aggressiveness but most important is that we’re smart and aggressive.”

The Wildcats didn’t shoot well from deep, either, but made 50 percent of their field goals and outscored Michigan 54-30 in the paint.

“That’s not the Michigan defense we’re accustomed to,” Howard said. “We will get back to the lab and see how we can get better because I trust this team and I also trust the staff that we’re going to come back for solutions. We’re a solution-based group and we’re going to figure out how to get better.”

The Texans lost by a point to North Dakota State on Monday. They shot just 36.4 percent from the field but the score was tied in the closing seconds. The Bison won it 54-53 on a free throw with seven seconds left.

Tarleton has put together a rugged nonconference schedule. It has already faced Stanford, Kansas and Wichita State. The Texans will play top-ranked Gonzaga on Monday.

“This school wants to win,” coach Billy Gillispie said. “This town wants to win. They’ve proven, with every single sport at Tarleton, that you can win.”

-–Field Level Media

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