In front of a fired-up crowd at Hilton Coliseum Sunday night, Melvin Ejim and Iowa State spoiled Mitch McGary's season debut, handing No. 7 Michigan a 77-70 defeat.
Ejim, who also appeared in his first game of the 2013-14 college basketball campaign, came off the bench and scored 22 points to lead a balanced Cyclones squad, which had five players score in double figures. He also chipped in nine rebounds, three steals and a block.
Senior DeAndre Kane, a transfer from Marshall, showed he is clearly ready for top-notch competition, as he scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with five rebounds and six assists.
Georges Niang, one of the more versatile, under-the-radar players in the country, added 10 points, while Dustin Hogue tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
McGary, who checked in off the bench, was certainly effective in his own right, tallying nine points, six rebounds and four steals in 22 minutes, showcasing the tantalizing blend of physical play, energy and skill that he gave glimpses of last March.
But while his return gives Michigan an important dynamic, it wasn't enough. The Wolverines shot just 42 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from beyond the arc in the enthralling, fast-paced battle.
John Beilein's squad showed impressive composure despite playing at the always-difficult Hilton, jumping out to an early nine-point advantage in the first half and holding the lead for much of the game.
But Fred Hoiberg's team went on a 10-0 run to take a five-point lead with five minutes left and was able to hold on down the stretch, thus writing the newest chapter of Hilton Magic and scoring the impressive Top 10 victory.
Don't rush to call it an upset, though. The Cyclones were slightly favored in some places, and with the work Hoiberg is doing, along with the hostile environment, it's not difficult to see why. It's going to be difficult to keep pace with Kansas and Oklahoma State, but the 3-0 Cyclones will undoubtedly challenge Baylor for third in the Big 12.
Hoiberg is quickly establishing himself as one of the premier coaches in college basketball, and although he recently signed a massive contract extension, let's hope he doesn't follow in the footsteps of Brad Stevens in the near future.
Despite the loss, 2-1 Michigan will similarly be a major player come March. McGary is still working his way back to full health, Glenn Robinson III struggled immensely and the Wolverines still managed to play a good team close in a difficult environment. The Wolverines are dripping with talent but still adjusting to life without Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
This game will help them going forward.
Up next, Iowa State gets a tricky road test against BYU in what should be a scintillating, up-and-down contest. Meanwhile, Michigan takes part in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where it will play Long Beach State and then either Florida State or VCU.