No. 10 Iowa rolled into the Crisler Center on Wednesday night as an explosive offensive machine, averaging 86.8 points per game, fifth in the nation.
However, No. 21 Michigan proved capable of derailing the Hawkeyes, holding Iowa nearly 20 points below its glitzy scoring average while registering a 75-67 win in a key Big Ten showdown.
"It was an incredible effort because some of our guys didn't have their best games, but we did just enough on defense," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "So our defense, although it didn't look like it at times, was pretty good."
Sophomore guard Nik Stauskas led the Wolverines (14-4, 6-0 Big Ten) with 26 points. Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III added 14, senior forward Jordan Morgan had 12, and freshman guard Zak Irvin scored 11.
Iowa, which last was ranked 10th or higher at this point in a season in 1993, received 17 points apiece from senior forward Melsahn Basabe and junior forward Aaron White. Senior guard Roy Devyn Marble scored 13 for the Hawkeyes (15-4, 4-2).
Michigan limited Iowa to just four fast-break points, taking away one of the Hawkeyes' primary weapons.
"We knew it was going to take a quality performance, and we didn't get that," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "Both teams like to run, but we needed to win the battle of transition."
Michigan led by 11 with eight minutes left, but Iowa cut the margin to three with under three minutes remaining. The big push was ignited by White, who did not attempt a field goal in the first half.
The Wolverines opened the second half with a four-point lead and quickly jumped on Iowa to stretch that margin to double digits in the first six minutes after the break. A Stauskas 3-pointer was followed by Robinson's dribble-drive dunk on the next possession. Guard Spike Albrecht stole the inbounds pass for Michigan and hit a jumper for the Wolverines' biggest lead to that point, 54-43.
Iowa struggled to reduce the margin, and Irvin stretched Michigan's lead back to 11 with about eight minutes left in the game, nailing a 3-pointer from the wing. He quickly added a fast-break bucket for a 62-51 advantage.
"We wanted to push it," Beilein said. "We felt like we had to be aggressive and get baskets in our transition offense whenever we could."
The Hawkeyes then got a big spark from White, who said the buzz over Iowa's No. 10 ranking was positive but meant very little in the middle of the Big Ten season.
"I want to be ranked at the end of the year and not in January," White said.
He scored nine straight points for Iowa as the pace of the game heated up, pulling the Hawkeyes within 64-60 with under five minutes left.
White stayed hot and pulled the Hawkeyes within 67-64 on a dunk with 2:30 to play.
Robinson got loose for a dunk with two minutes left, and Stauskas added two free throws with just under a minute to go to open the lead to 75-61.
The Wolverines withstood Iowa's push by limiting the Hawkeyes to just three free throws in the final two minutes.
"It's such a grind in this league," said McCaffrey, whose team had its last lead with about four minutes left in the first half. "The teams are so good."
After several sloppy and scoreless opening minutes, the horse race many expected began. Iowa led 10-7 after Marble's 3-pointer with about 15 minutes left in the first half, and the Hawkeyes were still on top by that margin about four minutes later as Basabe asserted himself inside. Basabe scored 11 of Iowa's first 17 points.
Michigan put together a 9-0 run midway through the first half, led by Stauskas and Robinson. The Wolverines went up 25-21 on a Stauskas-to-Robinson lob bucket.
Basabe tied it with a putback, and two consecutive scores inside from center Adam Woodbury gave Iowa a 31-30 lead.
The Wolverines took a 38-34 lead into the half on the strength of a Stauskas three-point-play and his pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left.
NOTES: Michigan did not start PG Derrick Walton Jr., who was battling illness in the days preceding the game. Spike Albrecht started in Walton's place. Walton entered the game midway through the first half but played just three minutes. ... Iowa relied heavily on its bench during its hot start this season, with the Hawkeyes' backups accounting for 36.3 points and 21.6 rebounds per game before Wednesday. No Iowa reserve scored more than two points or grabbed more than three boards against the Wolverines. ... Michigan sophomore G Nik Stauskas produced his ninth game of 20-plus points this season.