Michigan coach talks about his team bouncing back to cruise to a 69-55 win in the Big Ten opener on Saturday. James Hawkins
Ann Arbor — Ready or not, the Big Ten season is here.
Apparently, Michigan got the memo but somebody forgot to tell Indiana.
The Wolverines raced out to an early double-digit lead and withstood a second-half surge to cruise to a 69-55 win in the Big Ten opener at Crisler Center on Saturday. It marked the fourth straight win for Michigan over Indiana.
Freshman Jordan Poole had a coming-out party with a career-high 19 points and five 3-pointers for Michigan (7-2, 1-0), which finished with a decisive 11-2 edge in made 3s. Moritz Wagner added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Wolverines.
Juwan Morgan had 24 points but didn’t get much help for Indiana (4-4, 0-1), which trailed the entire game just three days after giving No. 1 Duke a scare.
“I was really proud of the way our kids bounced back,” Michigan coach John Beilein said, referencing Wednesday's 86-71 loss at North Carolina. “I was reading something about leadership and good leaders will use adversity as a springboard to get better. We didn't call it a springboard, we called it a trampoline.
“Let's take this thing at Chapel Hill that happened to us where we just were bad, we were just flat-out bad for a long time…I think we really bounced back very well today. I hope you're going to see over time, over the last 10 years and the next 10 years that we bounce back. Michigan is going to bounce back.”
Freshman guard talks about his 19-point performance in Saturday's 69-55 win in the Big Ten opener. James Hawkins
After Michigan got off to a fast start and led by double digits the majority of the first half, Indiana turned the tables and used a 12-1 run that ended with a Josh Newkirk 3-pointer and Morgan three-point play to trim the deficit to 39-34 at the 14:51 mark.
But the Wolverines countered with a momentum-shifting 8-0 run to restore order, 47-34, with 13:35 remaining. Duncan Robinson delivered arguably the biggest shot of the game by connecting on a 3-pointer to start the spurt and stem the tide. Jon Teske then hit a hook shot to push the lead back to double digits and Eli Brooks capped it with another shot beyond the arc.
“That was huge,” Wagner said of Robinson’s 3-pointer to ignite the run. “I was on the bench and Coach Dre (DeAndre Haynes) was like, ‘We need one right now.’ They messed up the play and Duncan was wide open and that was big. It all worked out perfectly.”
Indiana mustered another feeble comeback attempt with a 7-2 run to cut it to single digits, 54-45, less than six minutes later. Once again, Michigan fended it off and regained control with seven straight points on a Wagner mid-range jumper, a Poole 3-pointer and two Abdur-Rahkman free throws to make it 61-45 and effectively put the game out of reach with 5:47 to play.
The Hoosiers never seriously threatened down the stretch as Wagner and Charles Matthews provided the finishing touches with a one-handed dunk and a 3-pointer, respectively.
“On the road, sometimes things feel a little bit funny and you have to be able to adjust to make some winning plays,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “To our guys’ credit, I thought we had it to five or seven there at one point in time in the second half and then just had one terrible run that got away from us.”
Michigan used a 3-point barrage to score its first 12 points and jump out a 16-2 lead with 12:50 left in the first half. Poole and Robinson drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to open the scoring off assists from Abdur-Rahkman.
Abdur-Rahkman joined the party with a 3 from the wing and Poole knocked down another deep ball from the corner before Wagner made a deep jumper and Isaiah Livers turned a turnover into a fast-break layup to establish the 14-point advantage.
Meanwhile, Indiana was disoriented on offense, opening 0-for-7 from the field with five turnovers. The Hoosiers didn’t make their first basket until the 12:28 mark thanks to Morgan.
Indiana twice cut Michigan's lead to 10 in the opening half, the second time coming in the final minute before Abdur-Rahkman hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to make it 34-21 at halftime.
For the Wolverines, there won’t be much time to savor the win. Due to the Big Ten tournament being held a week earlier this season, Michigan has a quick turnaround and will finish off the early home-away conference stretch at Ohio State on Monday.
“We’ve got to bring the energy that we had this game and try to bring it into Ohio State,” Poole said. “It's good that it's only (two) days away, so the momentum stays with us and we don't have a week to rest on it.”