No. 1 no more: Michigan punches back at No. 3 Indiana, but comes up short, 81-73
It dug another hole, and fought back again.
But eventually, the Wolverines' shovel broke in Bloomington, Ind. -- and the team's No. 1 ranking, and shot at a Big Ten lead, went right with it.
Cody Zeller finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds as No. 3 Indiana out-lasted No. 1 Michigan in a big-time slugfest Saturday night, 81-73, at Assembly Hall.
With the win, the Hoosiers will likely move to No. 1 in the country in both major polls next week -- as Kansas lost earlier in the day. More importantly, Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten) took an outright Big Ten lead over Michigan, who dropped to 20-2, 7-2.
Michigan is now 2-21 at Assembly Hall since 1986.
Trey Burke finished with 25 points on 9 of 24 shooting to pace Michigan, who shot 30 of 70 from the floor as a team, but just 7 of 23 from 3-point range.
After stumbling out of the gate in front of a raucous Indiana crowd, the Wolverines found themselves down 15 midway through the first half after going just 5 of 15 to start the game.
But as they did at Ohio State earlier this season, the Wolverines began to claw back. Michigan used a 10-0 run to get within five, and after Burke's clutch step-back triple just before the horn, the Wolverines went into the locker room down just four, at 36-32.
Michigan would eventually claw all the way back to a 40-all tie early in the second after three Nik Stauskas free throws, but Indiana threw another haymaker -- rattling off an 11-0 run that was capped by a Will Sheehey jumper to go up 51-40.
But Michigan never rolled over, climbing back within four after a Burke bucket with 9 minutes to go, and all the way within three after Burke converted a 3-point play to make it 61-58 with 4:53 left.
But Indiana responded with a 3-pointer from Jordan Hulls and a 3-point play from Victor Oladipo a minute later, going up 67-60 and never looked back -- going back up by as many as 11 with their home crowd chanting "No. 1, No. 1" in the game's final minute.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 18 points on 8 of 16 shooting for the Wolverines, Christian Watford finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers, and Victor Oladipo added 15.
-- Nik Stauskas was completely missing in action during the first half, finishing the first 20 minutes 1 of 8 from the field. He never looked completely comfortable with the ball in his hands, struggling on the road for the second time this season. Stauskas finished the game 3 of 10, 1 of 5 from 3-point range, with 10 points.
-- Indiana almost always comes out on fire at home, but Michigan didn't do itself any favors early in the first half by not playing any defense. The Wolverines allowed Indiana to get up 15 midway through the first half, forcing themselves to get the shovels out and start digging early.
-- Glenn Robinson III struggled basically from wire-to-wire. He didn't score a point until there was 1:09 remaining in the game, despite playing all 40 minutes.
-- Cody Zeller was an animal when he felt like it, and Michigan couldn't really do anything to slow him down on the block. He threw down two mammoth putback dunks over Mitch McGary in the second half, and basically had his way inside.
-- Burke was fantastic early in the game, and kept Michigan from getting blown out almost by himself. His cold-blooded step-back triple at the first half horn stunned the IU crowd, and helped Michigan finish the first on a 19-8 run. Burke and Hardaway combined to score 43 points.
-- Michigan forced Indiana into 9 turnovers in the first half, and outscored the Hoosiers 12-2 on points off turnovers early.
-- Michigan junior forward Jordan Morgan dressed and played two minutes after missing Wednesday's win over Northwestern with an injured right ankle.
-- Though Zeller was big, Michigan's Mitch McGary and Jon Horford did an admirable job of battling on the block. McGary finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Jon Horford finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds.
ISSUE OF THE DAY: REVISITED
-- With Kansas losing earlier in the day, this one was probably for the undisputed No. 1 spot in America. And also for the outright Big Ten lead.
We asked if Michigan could prove whether or not it was worthy of the top spot.
Indiana will be the new No. 1 team in America on Monday, so there's really no shame in losing this one on the road. But Michigan will remember a few poor stretches that ultimately made the difference.
Winning at Indiana is tough, and Michigan fought valiantly after spotting the Hoosiers two double-digit leads. There's plenty of Big Ten basketball left -- how do you see Michigan responding down the stretch?
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