Indiana gets second win over top 10 team

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana handed Michigan its first loss in Big Ten play with a 63-52 victory over the No. 10 Wolverines in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall on Sunday.

The Hoosiers improved to 14-8 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten, following their disappointing loss to Nebraska with their second win this season over a top 10 team. The Wolverines fell to 16-5, 8-1.

Indiana led 25-22 at the break and held at least a two-possession lead since the 13:36 mark in the second half. Michigan cut a seven-point Indiana lead to four with a three-point play by sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III with 1:22 left, but Indiana finished the game with a 7-0 run that included two put-back dunks by freshman forward Noah Vonleh and a layup by guard Stanford Robinson.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Indiana sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell had arguably his best performance as a collegian. He scored 27 points, on a career-high seven three-pointers, making all but one of his three-point attempts and hitting eight of his 10 total field goal attempts. He missed two free throws, but one of them turned into that Vonleh dunk. He was also outstanding on defense against Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, holding the Big Ten’s leading scorer to just six points on 1-for-6 shooting. 

Vonleh had 10 points and 12 rebounds, making five of his nine field goal attempts. He also had a pair of blocks and helped hold Glenn Robinson III to just nine points. The three-point play occurred when Robinson was being defended by Austin Etherington. Vonleh blocked two shots on defense and was much more aggressive and active inside than he had been on Thursday in the loss to Nebraska.

Senior guard Evan Gordon scored eight points on 4-for-6 shooting despite only being cleared to play Sunday morning because of illness. IU coach Tom Crean said he’d been kept away from the team and the Hoosiers had to send game film to his apartment. Senior forward Will Sheehey had six points and three assists, but more importantly, he made the Hoosiers’ game plan come together. Though he was giving up several inches and 50 pounds to each of them, Sheehey defended Michigan centers Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, who are the primary screeners in the Wolverine’s offense. That allowed the Hoosiers to more easily switch off of ball screens and keep Michigan from beating them off the dribble drive. To make it work, though, Sheehey had to be the captain in terms of communication and had to keep the Wolverines from exploiting the size advantage inside. Sheehey fought the Michigan bigs for every inch, and even though Morgan had 10 rebounds, the two centers had just five points between them.

Michigan point guard Derrick Walton led the Wolverines with 13 points and swingman Caris LeVert had 12.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Beyond Ferrell’s 3-point shooting performance, the defensive game plan was the key. Though the Hoosiers played mostly man-to-man defense, the matchups were not at all conventional. Ferrell was giving up 6 inches to Stauskas, Sheehey was giving up 50 pounds to both centers inside. Vonleh was arguably giving up a little quickness to Robinson III. Stanford Robinson was dealing with the 6-6 LeVert and freshman Troy Williams was taking on a point guard in Derrick Walton. Instead of allowing Michigan to exploit those advantages, however, the Hoosiers exploited their own. The blink-quick Ferrell was all over Stauskas and kept him from getting any room. Vonleh swallowed up Robinson III with his size, and he was only able to truly score in transition. Walton made three of his six field goals, but didn’t get easy looks at the rim because the Hoosiers were switching on ball screens and making those difficult to move on. LeVert got his buckets, but the Hoosiers made him work for them and dared him to shoot on occasion. He had 12 points, but took 13 field goals and was 1-for-4 from beyond the arc.

All told, the best shooting team in the Big Ten made just 40 percent of its shots on Sunday and made three of 13 3-pointers. The most efficient offense in the conference and the third most efficient offensive team in the nation was held under 60 points for the first time all season.

Meanwhile Indiana had one of its most efficient offensive performances all around, hitting 53.5 percent of their field goals and eight of 13 three-point attempts. The Hoosiers made 13 of 20 field goal attempts in the second half (65 percent) and all three of their three-point attempts.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Just when you thought Indiana might be looking at the NIT as a best-case scenario, the Hoosiers grabbed a win that made an NCAA Tournament berth seem like less than a total pipe dream. The Wisconsin win gets less and less shiny with every Badgers loss, but a victory over the Wolverines is extremely valuable as an RPI win and at least help mitigate some of the damage from the Northwestern and Nebraska losses. On top of that, it’s further proof to the Hoosiers that they are capable of just about anything when they play intelligent basketball and gives them reason to be confident in every game the rest of the way. It’s been proven by several teams this season that absolutely anything is possible in the Big Ten this season, and there isn’t a game remaining on Indiana’s schedule that the Hoosiers have any reason to believe they’re incapable of winning. Whether they’re capable of finding a level of consistency and riding it out the rest of the season is another question entirely, but the Hoosiers at least know they can win games they aren’t supposed to win as much as they can lose games they aren’t supposed to lose.

WHO SAID WHAT: 

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Yogi Ferrell, Evan Gordon, Noah Vonleh

2 comments

  1. WOW! Yogi was capable of winning this one on his own on offense and the team, led by Will Sheehey, showed that they can have a tough defensive identity with ferocious rebounding. Coach Crean “gave” MI 6 free points early in the first half with a really stupid lineup (IU 10-MI 7 to MI 13- IU 10). However, the rest of the way his defensive game plan was terrific! Can IU achieve consistency? I sure hope so! Coach Crean, whether you wish to admit it or not, this is a 10 man team; Yogi, Noah, Will and Stanford plus Troy, Evan, Austin, Hanner and Devin, with Jeremy (does the kid know what it is to play aggressive, team-ball, hard for every second?) Rebounding and defense are the keys for this year’s team. Hanner (.271 reb/min, #3) and Devin (3.30 reb/min #2) (Noah #1 .372 reb/min), both good defenders, deserve more time! No one else should play besides these 10, except Jeff Howard (but why not give Jeff’s minutes to Hanner and Devin who will be keys to next year’s team?). But Coach has his own ideas on this. Oh well, back to the day job.

  2. Good win over Michigan, but can we please learn how to beat the bottom teams of the conference on the road!

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