The Michigan men’s basketball team kept their foot on the gas for most of the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Crisler Arena this afternoon and escaped with the 73-69 victory. The Wolverines, winners of five out of their last six overall, were led by Tim Hardaway Jr's career high 26 points. Darius Morris continued his impressive sophomore campaign with 15-points, six rebounds and five assists. Junior Stu Douglass chipped in 13, while fellow junior Zack Novak flirted with a triple-double, notching 10-points, seven rebounds and six assists. Indiana had four players in double figures as Christian Watford poured in 14 off the bench and Victor Oladipo scored 13 to go with six rebounds.
Early in the contest Michigan center Jordan Morgan seemed to pick up right where he left off against Northwestern, scoring four points to help give the Wolverines a 9-2 lead out of the gate. With the quick start, the first half was all Michigan. Indiana’s defense played tight on the perimeter providing openings to the basket that the Wolverines were more than happy to drive through. That aggressiveness was rewarded with trips to the charity stripe, where they went 11/18 in the first half.
“They wouldn’t let us get free,” said Michigan head man John Beilein. “They were up in us, so we had to drive the ball more. They really went out and took away the three, so if you take away the three you give up something else.”
Throughout this stretch of victories for the Maize and Blue the defense has been extremely consistent. Michigan forced Indiana into 10 first half turnovers giving up just 24 first half points to lead by eight at the break.
For much of the second half there appeared to be little hope for the Hoosiers as the Wolverines expanded their leas early. Getting back to Beilein’s bread and butter, four straight threes to start the stanza almost put the game out reach. Douglass hit two, while Hardaway Jr. and Novak hit one a piece to push Michigan’s lead to 44-28.
“It was huge we scored 17 points in the first 4 minutes of the second half, I looked up and we had stretched the lead out,” Douglass said after the game.
Michigan continued to roll behind the scoring of Hardaway Jr. who took over the game with 17 second half points. The Wolverines pushed the lead as high as 22, but Hoosiers refused to concede defeat.
The Hoosiers clawed back in the game thanks in large part to Michigan’s poor free throw shooting. With less than a minute to go the Hoosiers cut a 69-62 Michigan advantage down to just two points. That, however, is as close as the opponents would get, as the Wolverines held on for the 73-69 victory. Beilein hopes this victory train doesn’t slow down anytime soon.
“It is a good win for us no matter how it turned out in the last 4 or 5 minutes,“ he said. “It gives us six in the league, 16 overall, and we’re sort of in the thick of things now with five to go.”
For more on the game, click the following links: boxscore, notes.
Next up for the Wolverines (16-10, 6-7 Big Ten) is a road match-up with fourth place Illinois ((16-8, 6-5 Big Ten). The game will tipoff at 7:30 CST and will air on the Big Ten Network.