Michigan earns 'really good win' at Indiana
Bloomington, Ind. — From close calls to double-digit defeats, Michigan’s search for road success has been futile.
But at Indiana, that’s been the story for nearly two decades.
With two wins over the last 25 meetings in Bloomington, the Wolverines picked up a rare victory and their first true road win of the season by topping the reeling Hoosiers, 75-63, Sunday at Assembly Hall. It was Michigan’s first win at Indiana since Jan. 7, 2009.
Derrick Walton Jr. had 25 points, five rebounds and four assists for Michigan (16-9, 6-6 Big Ten), which snapped a six-game skid at Indiana and improved to 1-6 in true road games. D.J. Wilson added 13 points and Moritz Wagner recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"Obviously a really good win for our guys,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “I can't say enough about how they came in and played with so much enthusiasm and conviction to win this game. This is a hard place for every team that's ever played in the Big Ten to win at.”
After taking a 10-point halftime lead despite not scoring over the final 3:25, Michigan came out firing blanks in the second half, missing its first seven shots — six from 3-point range — as the scoring drought dragged on.
However, Indiana (15-11, 5-8), which has lost five of six, was equally ineffective. It could only muster a Josh Newkirk (11 points) layup during the stretch before Wagner ended the roughly eight-minute streak with a 3-pointer from atop the key to make it 38-27 with 15:43 to play.
"I thought a big point was the start of second half, we couldn't score,” Beilein said. “But they only scored two points in that — I don't know how many possessions. It seemed like six minutes, the bottom three (of first half) and top three of the second half, nobody could score and that was good because our defense is getting better."
Over the next two minutes, the Hoosiers used an 8-3 run to trim it to single digits at 41-35 as De’Ron Davis (13 points) scored five straight — a three-point play and layup — and James Blackmon Jr. hit a 3-pointer.
But the Wolverines responded. Duncan Robinson made a 3-pointer and Wilson converted a driving layup to push it back to double digits, 46-35, at the 12:21 mark.
Indiana began heating up from 3-point range with back-to-back deep balls from Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan (11 points) but Michigan didn’t fold. The Wolverines answered with layups from Mark Donnal, Xavier Simpson and Wilson and a Wilson turnaround jumper to pull ahead, 56-43, with 8:30 to play.
The Hoosiers had one last surge, cutting it to eight on a Johnson layup with 3:10 to go but Walton and Wilson kept Indiana at bay with back-to-back baskets to put the game out of reach at 65-53 a minute later.
Walton added the finishing touches with six free throws and a steal and a layup in the final minute to seal it.
“I always felt like we were in it to the very end, because you felt like the lid was going to come off the basket for us at some point,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “Maybe my shooters are feeling too much pressure.
“I’m not sure it was the Michigan defense. Maybe it was. I’m sure they’ll credit themselves for it.”
Michigan got off to a fast start and took advantage of four early turnovers, scoring the first five points of the game on a Walton 3-pointer from the wing and a Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman fast-break layup to jump out to a 14-8 lead with 12:34 left in the first half.
Michigan continued to add separation as Robinson drained a 3-pointer, Wagner had an offensive putback and Walton buried a 3-pointer from top of the key to push its lead to 22-13 at the 9:15 mark and momentarily take the crowd out of it.
Indiana injected some life into Assembly Hall by cutting it to five, but the Wolverines used a 10-2 run to pull ahead, 35-22, with 3:25 remaining in the half. Abdur-Rahkman started it with two free throws, Abdur-Rahkman and Wagner knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers following two more Indiana turnovers and Walton finished the flurry with a driving layup.
From there, Michigan failed to cash in on opportunities to extend its lead as its offense went cold. The Wolverines missed their final three shots from the field — lowlighted by Wagner missing the front end of a 1-and-1 — and committed a pair of turnovers as they took a 35-25 advantage into the break, a lead that was never seriously jeopardy the rest of the way.
“We just needed a win and we all knew that. It's very important for us with our back still against the wall,” Wagner said. “There's a certain anger on yourself, a certain ambition to beat a team on the road.
“It feels great and I hope we can take that momentum into the (next) game.”