Senior Day couldn't have gotten off to a better start for the Maize and Blue
Saturday afternoon. After a teary-eyed Tommy Amaker joined the crowd in thanking
the members of his first recruiting class in an emotional pre-game ceremony,
he put a unit on the floor comprised of Daniel Horton, Hayes Grooms, Sherrod Harrell, Graham Brown, and Amadou Ba. The senior quintet brought energy on both
ends of the court, powering the Wolverines to 5-0 lead right out of the gates.
When the regular starting lineup took over moments later, Horton connected on
his second three-pointer to spur an 8-3 run to push the lead to nine. That's
when Mike Davis' squad began to inch back.
Indiana big man Marco Killingsworth started to punish the Michigan on the boards,
grabbing six offensive rebounds and muscling in nine points in the first half.
The Hoosiers also began to warm up from long range, connecting on three triples
in the latter part of the half to balance the inside attack. When the halftime
buzzer sounded, the visitors went into the locker room down only three-points,
The Wolverines got off to another quick start after the break, thanks again
to their seniors. Brown and Horton combined for seven points to fuel a 9-2 run
that gave the home team an early 39-29 lead. But as was the case in the first
half, Indiana was there with an answer.
The Hoosiers employed a half court trap in an attempt to keep the ball out
of the hands of Daniel Horton and make the Wolverines get into their offense
late in the shot clock. The pressure bothered Michigan all game, forcing them
into 12 second half turnovers, and 24 for the game. That defensive intensity
helped create high percentage opportunities on the other end for the Indiana,
igniting a 14-3 run that gave the visitors their first lead of the game, (43-42),
with 11:41 remaining.
After Marshall Strickland pushed Indiana's lead to six with his second three-pointer,
Amaker's bunch finally broke out of their slump. A coast to coast lay-up from
Horton started another run, and Dion Harris capped it off with a three pointer
to regain the lead 52-50.
After exchanging leads over the next few minutes, the Wolverines held a three
point advantage with 2:06 remaining. Robert Vaden quickly erased that deficit
with a clutch three pointer from the corner to tie the score at 62. After Horton
gave the Wolverines the lead again with two of his thirteen made free throws
on the game, Killingsworth countered with a big-time move on the wing; a cross-over
dribble followed by a pull-up from the elbow to again knot the score.
Horton had an opportunity to put the Wolverines up again with about thirty
seconds to go, but he was bodied as he attempted a runner from the baseline.
The contact caused an errant shot that hit the side of the backboard. When the
Hoosiers go the rebound, Harris attempted to make a play for the ball but fouled
Earl Calloway as he began to race up-court.
Calloway converted one of two from the line, giving the Wolverines another
chance to take the lead on a made basket, but it was not to be. Horton again
attacked the basket drawing the Hoosier defense, but this time he kicked it
out. Dion Harris was the recipient, but instead of taking the jumper, he dribble
in closer and attempt a baseline runner that rimmed out.
The Hoosiers converted two more free throws after being fouled with 2.1 seconds
left, leaving yet another glimmer of hope for the home team. Their chances were
dashed, though, when Graham Brown's attempt at a full-court inbounds pass hit
the scoreboard speakers.
"It is tough to win with some many turnovers," Amaker said afterward.
"Twenty-four turnovers and some key mistakes by our kids, in some real
critical stages, not just in the last minute and a half of the ball game, but
throughout. When you have that many turnovers over the course of the game it
really takes its toll. They turn it over 20 times, we turn it over 24. It wasn't
a pretty game from that stand point. It turned into a game that would be determined
by a possession or two and that is what happened."
On the game Horton led all scores with 34 points. Graham Brown chipped in
with 10 points and nine rebounds. Killingsworth led four Hoosiers in double
figures with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Amaker pointed to the lack of balance offensively as another contributing
factor to the defeat. "We certainly need some better production from other
players. We can't rely on just one or two players to do the bulk of the scoring
for us. They (Indiana) had four players in double figures, which was a good
balance for them. For us, we have to have something from (Courtney) Sims and
(Dion) Harris. Those are the two players that are capable of scoring for us."
For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore,
With Saturday's loss Michigan finished the regular season 18-9 overall and
8-8 in conference, giving them the 7th-seed in the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
Next up for the Maize and Blue is a match-up with 10th-seeded Minnesota Thursday
at 2:30 at Conseco Field House.