BLOOMINGTON Listening to Indiana coach Mike Davis after his team”s 72-59 victory over Michigan yesterday, you wouldn”t have thought his team had won the game at all.
“This was our poorest outing of the whole season,” Davis said. “Our guards didn”t hit any shots, and that didn”t free anything for us. It”s tough to win in a clean fashion when your guards shoot like that.”
That poor shooting showed early in the first half, as Michigan (3-8 Big Ten, 9-13 overall) started with a 14-8 lead. But the Hoosiers utilized tough defense and strong post play to mount their comeback.
At one five-minute stretch that mercifully ended with a Gavin Groninger 3-pointer with six minutes to play, the Hoosiers outscored the Wolverines 16-0 and turned a six-point deficit into a 10-point lead. Over that spell, the Wolverines turned the ball over seven times while taking just two shots.
Indiana finished the game with 15 steals 11 in the first half.
In the first half, we were able to set the tone defensively,” Indiana guard A.J. Moye said. “We made some steals, everyone played hard and the intensity began to spread as we got on track offensively.”
Down 20 points early in the second half, Michigan fought its way back with Queen and Robinson on the court, slowly chipping away at the Indiana lead.
With 3:19 to play, the Wolverines had cut the lead to 62-55. That was as close as they would get.
Queen and sophomore LaVell Blanchard both had opportunities at the free-throw line to cut the lead to five. But both missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunities.
“We made some good plays and fought back in the second half, but the big plays were our inability to make free throws,” Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. “It would have been very interesting to see how they would have reacted in a five-point game when we seemingly had the momentum.”
In the second half, Michigan turned the ball over half as many times as it did in the first 20 minutes. Queen played the entire second half at the point for the Wolverines.
Queen and Robinson “compromised us and we”re in the teaching business,” Ellerbe said. “You just can”t let guys run amok.”
“You never know what would have happened if we had played,” Queen said.
Indiana center Kirk Haston and forward Jared Jefferies had career highs for the Hoosiers, scoring 30 and 26 respectively. Combined, the two accounted for 78 percent of Indiana”s 72 points.
Haston and Jefferies “just flat-out out played us. Me, Josh Asselin, LaVell, everyone,” Michigan forward Chris Young said. “We put everyone on them, and we just couldn”t stop them.”
Blanchard led Michigan in scoring for the 15th time this season with 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting.