Junior guard Stu Douglass said it’s never easy to win in Indiana’s arena, Assembly Hall.
In his two years on the team, the Wolverines have gone 1-1 on the road against Indiana. But they’ve never competed against the Hoosiers when the students were on campus.
“It’s a tough environment,” junior guard Zack Novak said on Wednesday. “I know I haven’t played there when their students have been there, so it’ll be kind of a new experience for me, but it’s a loud place to play. (Their) fans bring it. I think we’ll be ready to go. Our fans the last two games got us ready for a loud crowd, they’ve definitely done that.”
The fans at Crisler Arena have been rowdy the past two games, which will prepare the squad for the noise inside Assembly Hall. And if the on-court play against No. 3 Kansas and No. 2 Ohio State is any kind of sign, the Wolverines (1-3 Big Ten, 11-6 overall) may be on track to pick up their second Big Ten win of the season.
The Hoosiers (0-4, 9-8) started the year 9-2 but have struggled recently — losing their first four conference games and their last six games overall.
The Hoosiers are led by sophomore forward Christian Watford, returning after an impressive freshman campaign where he was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team. This season, he’s established himself as Indiana’s most reliable scoring option, averaging 16.9 points a game.
Michigan has done a good job containing opposing teams’ top post players this season by throwing a mixture of defensive looks and plenty of weak-side help at each big man. Redshirt freshman Jordan Morgan and freshman Jon Horford have rotated well for each other this season and held their own against some of the best post play in the country.
Most recently, Michigan was able to hold Ohio State’s freshman sensation Jared Sullinger to well under his season averages in points and rebounds. The Wolverines played Sullinger so effectively that he fouled out the game, the first time that’s happened this season.
“We’re close, but to get over the hump, you got to be better than the (bad) breaks,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “You got to be better than the other team. You got to be so focused, you got to be better than any calls that don’t go your way — and that’s a tougher thing to do than people think.
“(Ohio State) was a tough team, and I don’t think it’s going to be any easier now when we go to Indiana and play. It’s the same deal right now.”
Novak and sophomore guard Darius Morris have been the most consistent players for the Wolverines this far into the Big Ten season. The 6-foot-4 Novak leads Michigan with seven rebounds a game and has been clutch when the Wolverines needed him.
Morris’s numbers have dropped slightly since entering conference play, but he’s still dishing out an impressive seven assists per game and putting up nearly 14 points every time out.
After losing three in a row, the Wolverines are looking to get over the hump and snatch a win in the Big Ten schedule.
“We want to win, we wanted to beat them,” Morgan said of the Wolverines’ close loss to Ohio State on Wednesday. “It’s not like it’s okay. (We’re going to) go forward — we got two road games. Playing in the Big Ten — one of the best conferences in the country — (we) just want to be playing our best basketball come Big Ten Tournament time.”