Sixteen games into his collegiate career, Darius Morris had a hard time figuring out what was happening around him. After 20 minutes of play in the men’s basketball team’s win over Indiana last night, the freshman point guard watched both teams commit a combined 21 turnovers — 11 from the Wolverines.

There wasn’t much of the frantic 1-3-1 zone defense that Northwestern deployed last Sunday to take down Michigan. No gimmicks or new schemes. It was almost exclusively man-to-man defense from both teams. And lots of silly mistakes from each squad that would make any high school coach blush.

“It was ugly,” Morris said. “Just in the beginning of the game, I felt the flow was a little weird. We were playing great defense, but I don’t know what was happening on the other side. … I guess that’s one of those old-fashioned Big Ten games — just physical defense, and the offense is a little slow.”

Morris said redshirt junior Anthony Wright warned him about this style of play when the Los Angeles native decided to attend a Big Ten school.

“We’re giving more energy to the defensive end, which might be affecting people’s decision-making, and fatigue and stuff like that.”

Taking advantage:Michigan’s consistently tight man-to-man defense, coupled with some sloppy Indiana passing, led to 21 Wolverine points off 19 Hoosier turnovers. Junior Manny Harris and Morris were particularly effective in slicing through Indiana’s transition defense. Though the Wolverines only netted six fastbreak points, multiple players thought it was arguably the best the team has run the floor all season.

“We didn’t convert all of them, but the (chances) that we did convert looked pretty,” Morris said. “Just getting out there and running, making a simple pass. I feel like when me and Manny are running on the wing, there’s a lot of speed coming at the defender. You just have to make the defender make a play, and it works.”

With an undersized four-guard lineup, Michigan’s transition offense and open-floor speed will be instrumental in surviving when the team shoots poorly, as it did in the first half of last night’s game (32 percent). Now that the Wolverines’ postseason aspirations are close to being entirely hopeless, the coaching staff appears to be looking to exploit any subtle advantage they can find within their roster.

“It seems simple, and it’s not,” Beilein said. “You need spacing. You’ve got to move the ball. The right guys have to run the right angles. We were making some chancy plays there. That’s a big emphasis for us right now. In the Big Ten, at this level, it’s so hard to score. When you get a fast break, you need to take advantage of that.”

Prognosticator: Freshman guard Matt Vogrich made his first 3-pointer in five games last night, nailing an open look from the wing in the first half. Though it seemed routine enough, Beilein cracked a wide smile in the postgame press conference, boasting of a pregame prediction which came true.

“I told (Vogrich) he was going to hit a three,” Beilein said. “I said, ‘The crowd is going to go crazy, because they’re all rooting for you.’ And, sure enough, he came through.”

Though the Lake Forest, Ill. native has played limited minutes this season, he at least appears to have established a role as a temporary sparkplug off the bench, subbing in at shooting guard and small forward.

Vogrich received high praise for his two baskets and three offensive rebounds in three minutes of play in a win over then-No. 15 Ohio State on Jan 3. And though it sometimes seems like Vogrich receives disproportionately ecstatic cheers from the home crowd with every bucket, his teammate and occasional barber seems to think Vogrich has found a nice niche for himself.

“That’s the second or third time now that (Vogrich) has really come in and given us a spark,” sophomore Zack Novak said. “Getting a putback, we need him to do that. That really helps us to have someone come off the bench … he’s a little bit of a fan favorite.

“He doesn’t have the hair anymore. When he did … he looks kind of ridiculous, so people like him.”

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