Hoosier home hex: UM scraps but falls to IU

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Bloomington, Ind. — In what has been a house of horrors for Michigan for more than 25 years, the Wolverines were looking to get a rare win. UM has won at Indiana's Assembly Hall just twice — in 1995 and 2009 — in the last 27 years.

Trying to stop that skid is going to have to wait another year.

The Wolverines trailed all but 22 seconds of the game Sunday afternoon but stayed close in the second half. Whenever Michigan got close, though, Indiana had an answer and the Wolverines couldn't get over the proverbial hump in the Hoosiers' 70-67 victory.

The loss drops UM's record to 2-23 at Assembly Hall since 1988. It also was the third straight conference loss for the Wolverines — the first time that's happened since 2010-11.

Zak Irvin tied his season high with 23 points and Ricky Doyle tied his career best with 15 points and added six rebounds for Michigan (13-11, 6-6 Big Ten). The Wolverines had a chance to tie it late but Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's 3-pointer with two seconds left was off the mark.

It was another close loss for Michigan, which has been within one possession of winning in three of its last four losses. The Wolverines are getting frustrated with just getting close and not having some wins to show for it.

"Everyone keeps saying 'moral victories' but there are no moral victories," Spike Albrecht said. "It was a disappointing loss and I was proud of the way we battled but we have to start finishing these close games."

Beilein said he's been trying to keep the Wolverines' morale up after a string of four losses in the last five games, with two in overtime and one by 18 points.

"That's our story — and we're getting a little tired of it, but it beats the alternative of giving in," Beilein said. "We're making progress and we (talk about) growing in both victory and defeat. We don't like growing in defeat but I believe we are."

Albrecht scored eight of his 12 points in the final four minutes, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play. His pair of free throws with 43.2 seconds left cut the deficit to 67-64, but after an alley-oop by Troy Williams (20 points, eight rebounds), Indiana (17-7, 7-4) was back ahead by five.

Irvin followed with a triple with 18.9 seconds left to make it 69-67 and Collin Hartman split a pair of free throws for Indiana to give Michigan one final chance to tie it.

"The play was to get me in a ball screen and I lost the ball .... Muhammad had a good look at it; it was an open shot for us," said Irvin, who was 9-of-16 from the field.

The Hoosiers started quickly, taking an 8-3 lead after hitting four of its first seven field goals. Williams hit a pair of baskets and freshman James Blackmon Jr. (13 points) added eight straight points for Indiana — with a 3-pointer, a floater and a three-point play.

Mark Donnal, who has been recovering from a respiratory illness and has totaled just two minutes in the last three games, provided a spark off the bench for the Wolverines, with seven first-half points, including a 3-pointer that closed Indiana's lead to 22-17 with 5:30 remaining in the half.

After UM cut the lead to 24-21 on four straight free throws by Doyle and Albrecht, Indiana responded with a lay-in by Yogi Ferrell (18 points), who scored four straight Hoosiers points, and a triple by Blackmon.

"Indiana is a big matchup problem for everybody. Yogi is such a good player — I've been in this league eight years now and there are few point guards that I could say that are playing as well as he is," Beilein said. "He made big shots; he made big passes. We were in a double-team late on the 1-3-1 zone and he split the double-team and got a lay-up for them."

Michigan closed within five after a pair of free throws by Doyle, but Hartman scored with two seconds left and Indiana had a 36-29 lead at halftime.

"We knew they would come in with great tenacity, energy, togetherness, all the things that John has built there," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "What we're trying to get our team to understand is that whatever your mindset is about, what you're going to do offensively or what you think the game is going to turn out, you're only as good as your ability to adjust. You're only as good as your ability to make the plays that need to be made, when they need to be made."

Indiana looked to pull away after a Ferrell 3-pointer made it 60-51 with 8:31 left, but Michigan kept whittling away at the lead. They got it to three on Albrecht three-point play and set up the final attempt by Abdur-Rahkman.