Michigan's 72-70 loss to Arizona had all the atmosphere of a huge, Big Ten contest and many of the same traits. The intensity was off the charts from the beginning, with banging on the glass and some outstanding defense.
Sophomore Glenn Robinson III gave Michigan a quick with eight early points. He put the ball on the floor and drove and finished, hit a short free throw line jumper after a fake and scored four more points in transition, two on a nifty pass from sophomore Spike Albrecht. Albreched provided a early spark of his own with a long triple that asnsered a Nick Johnson three and made it 18-12, two rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore Nik Stauskas struggled to get his looks once again, held scoreless for the first 15 minutes. He did notch a big play with a drive and assist to Robinson, who tripled from the corner to make it 22-18 at the seven-minute mark.
Walton Jr. checked out with his second foul at 6:43. Albrecht replaced him and quickly found Stausksad off a screen, for a ong tripe that expanded the lead to 25-18. The sophomore missed another one from the corner in and out that would have brought the house down.
The Wolverines continued to rebound well and defend on the other end. The Wildcats scored a bit inside but notched nine offensive rebounds in the first half, though many were off balance tip-in attempts. Robinson III was as effective defensively as he was on the offensive end, bringing his 'A' game.
Horford missed two bunnies inside but got his own rebound. Stauskas found Albrecht for a triple that put the Wolverines up 28-20 before the Wildcats responded with six straight to make it 28-26 at the 2:44 mark.
LeVert drive and fish, Robinson drive and one missed. 32-28 at 1:20.
Stauskas made two free throws after being fouled on a defensive rebound to make it 34-28. Robinson III capped a perfect, 7-for-7 half with a contested triple to make it 37-28 at the half.
Albrecht notched six points, four assists and three rebounds, Stauskas and LeVert five points each in the first half. Horford recorded four blocked shots in nine minutes and was a presence on defense, also adding three rebounds.
The Wolverines started the second half working through the high post with McGary. He drove and finished with a jam to give the Wolverines their biggest lead.
A T.J. McConnell triple cut a nine-point lead to six. The Wildcats scored four more inside to make it 41-39 at 15:56, all coming off Michigan turnovers.
LeVert slowed the bleeding with a triple from the top with the shot clock winding down at 14:25. He followed a Johnson jumper with an acrobatic drive and finish, and one to make it 47-41.
The Wolverines came out in a 1-3-1 look the next time down and immediately forced a turnover.
Stauskas missed a triple, Johnson made his and it was a one point game before LeVert broke down and scored off the dribble with a lefty finish, then hit Robinson III for an alley-oop at 11:22 to make it 51-46. Robinson expanded the lead after a steal two free throws following a foul in transition.
Stauskas' acrobatic drive and finish, and-one, made it 56-50 with 8:40 remaining before the Wildcats started working the glass for second and third opportunities - they just couldn't convert. Two more Stauskas free throws made it 58-50 at 7:55.
U-M continued to defend well, but the Wildcats kept working the offensive glass for second opportunities and wouldn't go away. Brandon Ashley's jumper and dunk made it 58-56 at 4:22 following a missed triple and out of control drive by LeVert and a charge call on Stauskas.
The teams went back and forth down the stretch. Stauskas responded with a baseline drive and finish following a timeout before Aaron Gordon worked inside. McGary followed with two critical free throws on a feed from Stauskas. Gordon followed with a finish in traffic.
Hollis Jefferson finally gave the Wildcats the lead with a drive and finish, and-one, that made it 63-62 at 2:32. McGary countered with two free throws following an offensive rebound at 1:55. Ashley scored inside, followed by a drive and finish from Stauskas at 1:12.
McConnell missed but got his own rebound, the Wildcats' 17th offensive rebound of the game. A McGary foul sent Nick Johnson to the line, and he gave Arizona a 67-66 lead with two freebies at 24.6. Stauskas forced a jumper, and the Wildcats got the ball back on possession after a tie-up. Two more Johnson free throws made it 69-66 at 9.1.
The Wildcats fouled Albrecht. He missed the first and made the second. Johnson made two more free throws, Albrecht nailed a three, and the Wildcats made their 13th straight free throw before an intentional miss on the 14th made Stauskas settle for a desperation, 3/4 court heave that missed left.
Robinson III finished with 20 points and four rebounds, LeVert 15 points, Stauskas 14 and six assists, Albrecht 10 points and four assists and McGary eight points and four rebounds.