BLOOMINGTON — Trailing by just five with under two minutes remaining in the game, the Wolverines were a possession away from climbing back from a 10-point second-half deficit against the Hoosiers. On the ensuing Indiana possession, Indiana guard Bracey Wright came off a ball screen and launched a desperation 3-pointer that clanged the front of the rim as the shot clock hit zero.
But then Indiana freshman Robert Vaden swooped in and tipped in the Wright miss.
Poor backcourt performance, turnovers and undisciplined play in key moments all contributed to Michigan’s 62-53 loss last night at Assembly Hall.
“We can’t become a good basketball team if our guards play in a manner they played (last night),” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “There is no other way around it. It’s not putting (the weight) on their shoulders or (blaming them). But we choose to use the word ‘responsibility.’ I think if our guards are going to play the way they played and turn the ball over, then we are not going to be very effective, especially in the second half.”
Unlike the Michigan guards, Indiana freshmen D.J.. White and Vaden did deliver in the second half. During one stretch, White scored 12 consecutive points for the Hoosiers.
“(White) posts real hard and finishes well around the basket,” forward Graham Brown said. “That kid has a lot of heart. He goes to the basket as hard as he can, and you can’t really teach that.”
White finished with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, but it was the clutch tip-in by Vaden that sealed the win for the Hoosiers.
“That was a big play for their team,” Brown said. “That was the defining moment for them. That was one thing that kind of took the air out.”
Vaden was left unguarded after sophomore Brent Petway — who played for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Jan. 8 against Fairfield — rushed to defend against Wright’s 3-point attempt. That lapse in execution typified a reoccurring theme for the Wolverines throughout the game.
Horton said Michigan didn’t value the ball and rushed shots.
Brown said the Hoosiers just played harder.
Freshman Ron Coleman said the Wolverines (3-1 Big Ten, 12-6 overall) didn’t handle Indiana’s second-half press well.
“We struggled with the ball a lot on the perimeter,” Coleman said. “We couldn’t control the ball. We had a lot of key turnovers in the game that led to a lot of key buckets for them.”
The freshman also struggled to find his shot, something Michigan had relied on during its recent six-game winning steak. Coleman scored just three points and shot 1-for-8 from the field against the Hoosiers (3-1, 8-7).
“It was just one of those days when your shots aren’t falling,” Coleman said. “(The shots) all felt good. I was open when I took them.”
Riding 57 percent shooting in the first half, the Wolverines took a 30-27 lead into halftime but could not find an offensive rhythm in the second frame, shooting just 7-for-28 from the field.
“Anytime you hold a team like that to 25 percent (shooting) in the second half, it speaks volumes,” Indiana coach Mike Davis said.
But the difference-maker in the second half proved to be Indiana’s aggressiveness on offense and defense. Vaden and White combined for 21 points, and the Hoosiers made 26 of their 28 free-throw attempts in the second half.
The Wolverines dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Hoosiers. Their last win against Indiana was a 70-64 decision on Jan. 9, 2001. Davis is 7-1 all-time against Michigan.