BLOOMINGTON – The Michigan men’s basketball team followed the popular coaches’ logic espoused by ESPN commentator and former coach Rick Majerus that if you attempt more free throws than 3-pointers, you should win the game.
But the Wolverines encountered an unforeseen problem.
Three points is more than one.
And since Indiana made more than 50 percent of its long-range attempts, the Hoosiers had no trouble running away with the victory Saturday afternoon.
“They spread the floor and leave the inside open for (senior D.J.) White, and then they have the shooters and the drivers on the perimeter,” senior Dion Harris said. “That wasn’t a surprise to us – they just did what they do today.”
And they did it well.
Indiana made 8-of-14 first-half attempts from long range, en route to sinking 10 attempts from beyond the arc in the game. Michigan made an adjustment by halftime, holding the Hoosiers to just two 3-pointers in the second frame by mixing in several zone defenses. But the damage had already been done.
With the Wolverines paying extra attention to the long ball in the second half, Indiana had no problem settling for shorter, easier shots.
Their percentage certainly didn’t suffer, as the Hoosiers knocked down 7-of-8 attempts to begin the second half (none of which were from outside), and extended the lead to 20 in that short span.
Season high/low: Michigan recorded season bests in two critical categories on Saturday, as it attempted 35 free throws against Indiana and converted on 29 of those chances.
The previous high for Michigan in both categories came against Davidson (Nov. 11), but many of those free throws were a product of Davidson fouling late in the game.
Against the Hoosiers, the Wolverines sought to attack the aggressive Indiana defense, and get to the free throw line, where they would have easier opportunities to score.
Four Michigan starters attempted at least five free throws during the game, and each of those players shot better than 80 percent from the line. Junior Ron Coleman was 9-of-9 from the charity stripe, senior Courtney Sims was 7-of-8 and Harris was 5-of-5.
While Michigan was able to get to the free throw line seemingly at will, a difficult task on the road, it didn’t have the expected influence on the game’s outcome.
“If someone had told me (the number of free throws we shot and made), then I would have predicted that we would probably have been a lot closer, if not been able to win, this basketball game,” Amaker said. “We were the aggressor, I thought. We tried to use the foul line as a weapon to score, and that was the only way.we certainly weren’t able to get too many threes, and not being able to score from the floor in the paint was difficult for us.”
Michigan set a season-low in field goals against the Hoosiers, converting on just 15-of-43 tries (35-percent).
Injury update: Sophomore point guard Jerret Smith didn’t travel with the team to Bloomington. He stayed behind to recover from a mild concussion suffered in Michigan’s loss Wednesday at Wisconsin.
Amaker professed no knowledge of Smith’s situation or when the Romulus native would return.
The Wolverines certainly could have used Smith’s help against the Hoosiers. After playing two of his best career games against Penn State and Purdue, the injury comes at a bad time.
Smith provided a contribution in the scoring column in those two games, but his biggest contribution against Indiana might have been freeing up his teammates to score. With Smith on the floor, Harris can play more of his natural position, shooting guard, where he is more comfortable and effective.
“(Smith) would have helped me to get off the ball a little bit,” Harris said. “I was mainly on the ball the whole time today, setting up things, and couldn’t really carry the main scoring load tonight.”