Deja vu? Michigan can't overcome another rough start in loss at Indiana, falls out of Big Ten lead
Top-ranked Michigan has lost two games this season, both on the road.
Both times the Wolverines faced raucous environments, and both times they fell into deep early holes.
Both times they fought back, but both times it wasn't enough.
This hasn't quite reached broken record status yet, but if there's a lesson somewhere in the aftermath of Michigan's 81-73 loss at Indiana on Saturday, it has to do with digging.
"Their offense early was our (lack) of offense," said Michigan coach John Beilein, discussing how his team fell behind by 15 points during the game's first 10 minutes. "There are times when you have to go out there and adjust to how they're playing you, and they gave us looks we have to adjust to. We did not show great discipline.
"As a result, all of a sudden, you get buried. There were some deja vu moments from the Ohio game."
In Michigan's only other loss this season, on the road at Ohio State last month, the Wolverines (20-2, 7-2) couldn't answer the Buckeyes' intensity during the game's first 10 minutes -- falling down by as many as 21 points early before coming all the way back, only to fall short, 56-53.
On Saturday at Indiana (20-2, 8-1), the story was basically the same.
The Hoosiers, feeding off a frenzied crowd of 17,472, had Michigan scrambling on offense, and flailing on defense during the early going.
Indiana hit its first six shots from the field, going up by as many as 15 during the game's opening 10 minutes.
From that point forward, Michigan was in scramble comeback mode -- not an ideal situation at Assembly Hall.
"That's something we're continuing to try and make adjustments with and get better at," said Michigan point guard Trey Burke, who scored a game-high 25 points in a losing effort. "Coming out and throwing the first punch (on the road). That's a really good team, and when you're playing a great team on the road, you're going to get everybody's best shot.
"We just didn't get over the hump."
After scrapping to make it a four-point game at halftime Saturday, Michigan eventually pushed all the way back to a 40-all tie with 17:42 left.
And, just like the Ohio State game, the Wolverines never got any closer.
The Wolverines got 43 points from Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., but freshmen starters Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas went a combined 4 of 16 from the floor. Robinson played all 40 minutes and didn't score until there was 1:09 remaining.
On the road, against teams like this, all hands are needed on deck.
Michigan never got all five on the same page Saturday night in Bloomington.
"We just needed more stops," Michigan freshman forward Mitch McGary said. "And on offense, we just needed to execute."
All is certainly not lost for the Wolverines, but if they're looking for a breather, they won't find it.
Michigan is now a game back of Indiana in the Big Ten race, and lost a chance to grab an inside track at a possible midwest-based No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
On top of that, the Wolverines' next three games are: vs. No. 11 Ohio State on Tuesday (9 p.m., ESPN), at Wisconsin on Saturday and vs. No. 13 Michigan State on Feb. 12.
Gut check time has officially arrived for the 2012-13 Michigan basketball team.
How will it respond?
"They're going to see 'yes' faces from the coaches (Sunday) in the locker room, but it doesn't get any easier," Beilein said. "We can't be patting each other on the back with moral victories and things like that, no. We're very disappointed.
"But we can't dwell on it. We can't let (this game) beat us twice."
Or, in this case, Michigan can't let it happen a third time.
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