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Posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Michigan battles, but becomes latest ranked basketball team to lose, 73-71, at Indiana

By Nick Baumgardner


Indiana's Verdell Jones III reacts to a Michigan turnover late in the second half of the Hoosiers' 73-71 win Thursday in Bloomington, Ind.

AP Photo

Updated 12:29 a.m.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In the most hostile environment it has faced all season, the Michigan basketball team found itself on the brink not once, but twice.

And both times, the resilient Wolverines found a way to claw back.

Just not all the way.

No. 16 Michigan erased two separate double-digit leads but never found a way to pull in front as 12th-ranked Indiana got 25 points from Christian Watford and 18 from freshman Cody Zeller in a nail-biting 73-71 win at Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

"I like our team and I like coaching our team, but I never believed we were going to go 18-0 in the Big Ten," Michigan coach John Beilein said after the loss. "Nobody's going to (do that). We've got to make sure we learn from this.

"It's disappointing, but it's also part of life right now in this league."

The loss snaps the Wolverines seven-game win streak and leaves Michigan (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) at 0-2 on the road this season, with its other setback coming via a 12-point loss at Virginia in November.


Nick Baumgardner’s recap:

Twice Michigan (12-3, 2-1) battled back from double-digit deficits to pull even on the road at No. 12 Indiana (13-1, 2-1), but in the end the Wolverines never led. Michigan trailed by two with possession at the one-minute mark, and had one final chance to steal its first road game of the season at the horn, but Zack Novak's half-court heave was too strong, leaving the Wolverines just short. Michigan showed resiliency, but is still 2-20 in its last 22 trips to Bloomington.

In Michigan's lone other road test this season (at Virginia), adversity turned into a snowball the Wolverines couldn't avoid. In Bloomington, Michigan found a way to battle through various bouts with adversity before coming up just short. Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored five points in the road loss at Virginia, finished with a gritty 19 points to pace Michigan. Freshman Trey Burke had a poor shooting night (4-for-15), but managed to score 10 points while handing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.

Indiana junior Christian Watford and freshman Cody Zeller may as well have been playing horse. Neither saw many shots they couldn't make. The duo combined to shoot 16-for-21 from the floor and score 43 points, 59 percent of Indiana's output.

"We're not going to win them all. I like our team and I like coaching our team, but I'd never believed we were going to go 18-0 in the Big Ten. Nobody's going to (do that). … It's disappointing, but it's part of life right now in this league."
Michigan coach John Beilein


Michigan not interested in any silver linings after two-point loss at No. 12 Indiana
Boxscore | Top 25 scores | Big Ten scores

In the Wolverines last 22 trips to Bloomington, Michigan has gone 2-20.

Indiana, meanwhile, continued its torrid play at home. The Hoosiers are now 11-0 at Assembly Hall with wins over a top-ranked Kentucky squad and a second-ranked Ohio State team.

"The effort is there on our team," Michigan sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. said. "But give them credit, they made more tough plays than we did and they were a little bit more physical in some areas.

"We've got to bounce back."

Hardaway paced four Michigan players in double figures with 19 points, while Jordan Morgan finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman point guard Trey Burke added 10 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds, but shot just 4-for-15 from the floor.

Zeller and Watford combined to shoot 16-for-22 from the floor, and accounted for 43 of Indiana's 73 points.

Indiana shot 27-for-49 from the floor, 7-for-11 from 3-point range.

"We've got to figure out something to (defend) better," Michigan senior Zack Novak said. "We had a gameplan, but (Watford) is a good player and he's going to get some shots over you. He made some tough ones tonight, you've got to give him credit."

Michigan seemed to play catchup all night long, falling behind by 15 in the first half before battling back -- then trailing by 10 after a highlight-reel stuff by Victor Oladipo with 7:16 to go in the game made it 65-55 Hoosiers.

Still, the Wolverines managed to fight back again.

A Burke 3-pointer brought Michigan back within six at the 6:24 mark, and back-to-back layups by the Wolverines' freshman sensation made it a three-point game with 4:01 to play.

Hardaway would then bring the Wolverines the rest of the way back, splitting a one-and-one free-throw opportunity and polishing off an Indiana turnover with a two-handed breakout dunk, leaving the score at 68-all with just 3:03 remaining.

Indiana reclaimed the lead on its next possession on a pair of Verdell Jones foul shots, but Michigan found itself with chances to tie or take the lead on its next four possessions.

Stu Douglass missed a 3-pointer with 2:43 left, Hardaway missed a 3-pointer with 2:04 left, Burke missed a layup with 1:04 left and Hardaway missed another 3-pointer with 1:01 left.

After securing the rebound off Michigan's final miss, the Hoosiers then killed some clock, and Jones delivered the ultimate dagger -- burying a 15-footer from the wing to make it a 72-68 game with just 23 seconds to play.

"A lot of their stuff (came down to) one-one-one," Beilein said. "Watford making a pull-up, Jones making a pull-up.

"That was certainly a big one."

Novak was whistled for a travel on Michigan's next possession, but all hope wasn't lost.

Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowing Douglass to drop in a triple with less than two seconds to play, making it a 72-71 game.

Michigan then fouled Watford, who split a pair of foul shots, giving the Wolverines one last chance. Novak's half-court heave was too strong off the backboard, leaving Michigan two points shy.

Douglass finished with 11 points for Michigan, while Novak and Evan Smotrycz each added eight.

Indiana (14-1, 2-1 Big Ten), had no other players finish in double figures.

As a team, the Wolverines shot 27-for-58 from the floor.

Michigan returns to the court Sunday when it hosts Wisconsin (1:30 p.m., CBS).

The end result of Michigan's second venture onto the road this season wasn't nearly as poor as the first.

But it was still a loss, nothing more, nothing less.

"I didn't learn anything new," Novak said. "I knew we were a tough team, I knew we'd respond, it was disheartening the way it ended.

"It happens."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

It takes a team, and Indiana had it. Let' s take it all the way, II! Go HOOSIERS. Watch out. Big Red is back!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

I was surprised that Michigan was very competitive in this game. Here are some stats that suggest why the Woverines came up short. Hardaway 0 for 7 from 3pt land, 0 assists for Novak listed as a guard, only six players with meaninful minutes (compared to eight players for Indiana), Trey Burke our second leading rebounder (7), 80% shooting for Indiana freshman big man Zeller. Some problems are correctable, some not. We are going to be a tired team at the end with playing only six men. Burke (37 miunutes) was tired at the end and missed free throws). We have poor interior defense, having to revert to double teaming which can lead to easy assists. I definitely like things about this team -- its unselfishness and gritiness. But I can easily see scenarios where it loses to average Big 10 teams in close games. Even mediocre Big 10 teams can through 8-10 players at you. Beilein's failure to recruit enought solid backup players will eventually catch up with him.

Dennis Mamelson

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

Ross ... I understood you were referring to those two players. I was just curious to see how the team has been shooting so far this season. I was also surprised to see IU shot around 55% for the game because they did miss some close in shots. But that % is about what they have been averaging. I thought IU was going to win by about 8 or 10 but Michigan played great defense causing some turnovers. I was very nervous at the end. Cody Zeller is an outstanding player but he does not shoot very well away from the basket. If he does develop a mid range shot our team could be tremendous next year because we have a great bunch coming in, including 'Yogi' Ferrell, who is an outstanding point guard. We could have used him down the stretch last night. Having followed Indiana University basketball since 1953, it was sickening watching the program sink in the ocean. It is so gratifying to watch these kids. I bet you have some of the same feeling watching your football team return to respectability. I am happy to see that too.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

The fact that Michigan did SO many things wrong and still lost by only 2 points is very encouraging. The ceiling for this team is high. High enough to beat almost anybody in the nation. I think the Wolverines will improve quite a bit between now and the end of conference play. A #4 seed in the NCAA tourney still seems well within reach.

Dennis Mamelson

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

A few days ago I read Nicks preview of the UM - IU game and I really liked his style. So when his column appeared on our Indiana site today I was drawn to it again. One poster wrote, "You can't expect to win on the road without a decent %." I got curious so I looked up the Wolverines stats for all games so far this year and here's what I found. Going into the Indiana game their 14 game FG average was 48%. The FG average in their 12 wins was 49%. The FG average in their two losses was 47%. And they shot 47% against Indiana. So according to the numbers they had a 'decent' shooting night. Not the 54%, 55% and 62% in three previous wins but not the 39% in a couple other wins. Indiana led the nation in FG % for a while when their competition was not very strong and I think they were 5th going into the Michigan game. My point is that Michigan's 47% last night was not as bad as one would think. It pretty much comes down to if you win you don't think so much about percentages. Ii think the poster might have specifically been thinking of Big Ten games and he is right, especially playing at the Indiana Assembly Hall this season, they just might have run into the toughest team they have played so far this season. And they almost won! Beat Indiana "easily?" I don't know about that one. I am not necessarily criticizing the poster, it just made me curious to check the stats. I just happen to be a fan myself and I'm sure I have said things that someone could refute as well. I like the Michigan team (especially our two Indiana kids, of course) and I know it will be a difficult game when we go to Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

You are right, overall, but I was referring to Hardaway and Burke, specifically. Should have clarified that. The team shot well overall, but our two leading scorers had trouble. But, uh, yeah, Michigan would have won easily if Hardaway had made just 2 or 3 of those nasty 3-pt attempts. For the record, I would classify that game as IU having an off-night. They were really not very impressive to me (no offense, I think your team is awesome and I love seeing you guys beat the #1 and #2 ranked teams). Lots of missed shots from open looks and careless turnovers. But you are also getting a lot of love from the home refs (which is typical in big ten play)....

Kim Patrick

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

I notice that Indiana's coach spends most of the game 3-4 feet out on the court....running up and down the length of the half court. Why do the officials allow this? It is a distraction to the opposing players. He should not be allowed on the court while play is under way.

r treat

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.



Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Michigan played a gritty game, fighting back from a double digit deficit in a tough environment. But, it wasn't enough to overcome the usual 6-8 point advantage IU gets from the refs at Assembly Hall. It was even worse when Knight was there.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Agreed, pretty bad stuff. Novak is planted firm and gets called for the blocking foul. He was livid over that one, because he knew it would cost him serious minutes of playing time under the draconian rules of Beilein. On the other end I saw a ton of reach-in and body fouls going uncalled with IU swarming all over Blue. Frustrating.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Sorry Tim Hardaway, but I have to put this loss mostly on your shoulders. As much as we appreciate your offensive tenacity and confidence, you are trying to do too much. 0 for 7 from 3-pt. Those were critical possessions, man. You are simply not shooting the 3 well this season - jacking up more poorly planned attempts is not going to fix that. How about an assist or two, dude? You are a complete ball hog right now. And how about some defense, Tim? The ESPN crew was all too happy to call you out repeatedly for allowing your man to simply side-step you to a clear shot, which often went in. You didn't rotate well either. For some reason Beilein wasn't screaming in your face to get with it... I sure would have been. I also put some fault to Beilein for his automatic "you picked up a foul, so you come out of the game" rule. This resulted in Novak basically missing the most important stretches of the game, where we really needed his efforts defensively. With just "decent" shooting by Tim Hardaway or Trey Burke, Michigan wins this won easily. You can't expect to win on the road without a decent %.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 1 a.m.

I agree that defense wins ball games and Michigan needs to improve, but I disagree with trashing Tim. What I think is more appropriate is what I did when I played. If the shots are not falling, concentrate on the other areas you can help. Defense, rebounding, defense, picks, defense, assists, rebounding and defense. I am no college coach but it seems that a common rule has been reversed. That is, follow your shot. I see players often take a shot and run to the other end of court and watch the other team grab a rebound the shooter might have got had he followed the shot. Perhaps this is part of the defensive scheme to get back to prevent fast breaks. But I think this team is lacking in rebounding. I am impressed none the less. Michigan could have won this game with just one less error and to make it so close on the road shows they are capable. I think if they just shored up some fundamentals a tad they can beat anybody.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

I agree. I think Morgan finished the game with over 30 minutes but only 1 or 2 fouls. Come on man! Man up, you are a huge dude, make people respect you. On the other hand, Beilein doesn't let anyone stay in the game when they pick up a foul, which is stupid.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

I agree about Hardaway's defense. It needs to improve. But other guys kind of slacked off at times too. Smotrycz stood by at least once letting an IU player breeze by him for a dunk, which was an example of Michigan's generally weak inside defense. We have no one that regularly challenges inside shots, Morgan included.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Strange how many were disappointed with the football teams win. And I suspect many will be encouraged by the BB teams loss.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:43 a.m.

Kudos to Michigan for scrapping back into the game after Indiana opened double digit leads. However, Michigan did not shoot well (46.6%) and did not protect the ball (12 TOs). Offensively, Tim Hardaway, Jr had a particularly off night shooting only 7-19 FGs including no three pointers with seven attempts. Likewise Trey Burke hit only 4-15 FG attempts. Michigan's defensive effort was sub par also, allowing Indiana 55.1% shooting percentage for the game and 7-11 three pointers. Also Indiana completed more free throws (12) than Michigan attempted (11). Michigan had a number of defensive breakdowns and did not seem to match Indiana's energy for most of the night. Perhaps Indiana's home court with its loud and boisterous fans effected Michigan. When Burke and Hardaway are playing well Michigan can probably beat any team. I hope that both will be more consistent during the second half of the games left. This team can still have an outstanding season.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 10:09 a.m.

Mich will be fighting with Indy all year for third place in the B10. Not too shabby, but they simply aren't good enough inside to beat OSU and will have tons of trouble with more athletic teams like MSU.