Gonna start by saying: Credit to John Beilein for scheduling this kind of game in the middle of November. Most major-conference college coaches aren't willing to go on the road in a very bitter environment and challenge -- truly challenge -- their team. Especially against a club like Iowa State, which is likely to reach this year's NCAA tournament, in my estimation.
But Michigan took a flight down to Ames, Iowa, and gave it a go against a talented and experienced Cyclones team Sunday. It ended with a loss for the seventh-ranked Wolverines, who were downed 77-70 and watched a flood of undergrads swarm the floor and sing "Sweet Caroline" upon witnessing their Clones' biggest win on the young season.
Melvin Ejim, who was initially thought to miss all of November because of a left knee injury, made his first appearance this season. How'd it go? How about this: a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds. There's a reason why he was picked First Team All-Big 12 in the preseason. The reported 22 NBA scouts in the building had to walk away impressed.
Michigan big man Mitch McGary, a preseason All-American candidate, also had his season debut following an injury. Specifically, it was McGary's back that kept him out the first week and a half and for most of the preseason. He had nine points and six boards. Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas led the team with 20 points.
Iowa State (3-0) closed out the contest by outdoing Michigan to the tune of 23-10 points. The foul disparity certainly played a part; Michigan (2-1) made just four of its nine attempts from the stripe, while ISU went 13-19.
It was a second consecutive solid weekend for college hoops, one that included plenty of upsets. This wasn't one of them, considering Iowa State was favored, but the fan reaction at game's end was as giddy as any other we've seen to date. In fact, I think that was the 2013-14 season's first court stormin'.
That celebration also tells you how ready the fan base was for this game; reports had it that when this one was announced and tickets went on sale, all of them were purchased in approximately 10 minutes. Hilton Magic is alive in Ames, and Iowa State is likely to be ranked come Monday.