With their best player stuck on the bench for half the game and their shooting touch all but a lost cause, the University of Utah Runnin' Utes suffered their first loss of the season Saturday, falling to the University of Michigan. Eric Riley blocked 11 shots and Demetrius Calip scored 20 points to lead the Wolverines past the Utes 81-65 in Ann Arbor.
With the score tied at 13 in the first half, the Wolverines broke open a close game and were rarely threatened again. Utah managed to cut Michigan's lead to five points with five minutes remaining, but could never get closer.The Utes, 3-1, committed 21 turnovers. They shot 34 percent from the field (23 of 68), although certainly the play of the 6-11 Riley had something to do with that. They made just 16 of 27 foul shots and 3 of 14 three-point attempts. Josh Grant, Utah's leading scorer and rebounder, sat on the bench for half the game because of foul trouble. He played just 20 minutes before fouling out with 3:40 remaining. Scoreless in the first half, Grant finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds, making just 3 of 8 field goal attempts.
"It's hard for us to win with Josh out of there," said Coach Rick Majerus. "And Byron (Wilson) didn't get the minutes he needs to get. We hurt ourselves on the foul line and in handling the ball. We've got a lot of work to do."
Wilson, who played much of the game in foul trouble, finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Walter Watts, playing his best game of the season, had 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Surprisingly, the Utes outrebounded Michigan 48-40, totaling 25 offensive rebounds.
"We missed some easy shots," said Majerus. "If anyone had told me we'd get 25 offensive rebounds and lose by 16 . . . I've never seen that happen."
The Utes scored the game's first seven points, but then the Wolverines went on a 26-8 streak. The game was tied at 11 and again at 13 before the Wolverines took their first lead of the game, 15-13. They were leading 17-15 when they went on a 9-0 run. Michigan led 32-21 at halftime.
The Utes fell behind 51-37 in the second half, but gradually they chipped away at the lead until they cut it to 64-59 with 5:17 remaining. They had the ball and a chance to cut it to three, but Phil Dixon missed a shot and the Wolverines pulled away again.
Calip, the team's only senior, led all scorers, with 20 points, to help Michigan improve its record to 2-0. Tony Tolbert had 14 points and Kirk Taylor 13. Riley had 12 points to go with his 11 blocked shots.
The Utes, who have played four games in eight days, play three more next week. They return home for games against Utah State on Tuesday and Oregon on Thursday, then travel to California to play Cal-Irvine.