The Michigan Wolverines ambushed the Indiana Hoosiers early, held on late, and finally pulled away for a 68-56 win on Wednesday night in Ann Arbor. Behind 18 points from Trey Burke, Michigan improves to 17-6 (7-3) while the Hoosiers drop to 17-6 (5-6).
Doing their best Arkansas Razorbacks impersonation, Michigan jumped all over Tom Crean’s squad in the early going. The Wolverines started out with leads of 13-0 and 27-8 in a blistering first 12 minutes of action. Indiana regrouped and closed the half on a 14-6 run to stay alive. The second half saw IU claw back into the game and eventually get within 2 points before Michigan stretched it out during the game’s final 3 minutes.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Stu Douglass hit clutch 3’s down the stretch to open the lead back up and allow Michigan to seal the game from the free throw line.
Burke continued his sensational play in what was an indirect showdown between he and Cody Zeller, two of the best freshman in the Big 10. Burke scored 18 on 5 of 9 shooting and added 4 boards, 4 assists, a steal, and a block. Zeller grabbed a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Freshman of the Year award will come down to these two young bucks.
Zack Novak and Hardaway scored 13 apiece for Michigan while Douglass dropped 9 and continued his sensational play on the defensive end of the floor.
The key stats to take away from this game were Michigan winning the turnover battled 6 to 14, they also had 7 blocks and steals combined to just 1 for Indiana. The Wolverines outshot the Hoosiers 52% to 43%.
More importantly, Michigan bounced back strong from a frustrating loss in Columbus. The win keeps Michigan directly in the hunt for the Big 10 regular season crown.
Jordan Hulls, a player that you have no choice but to respect, led Indiana with 18 points and 5 assists. He knocked down 4 of 5 from long range. The rest of the Hoosiers managed just 1 for 9 from beyond the arc.
Michigan was able to hold Christian Watford to just 8 points and 3 rebounds. Watford has historically given the Wolverines fits. Verdell Jones III injured his shoulder right before halftime and did not return.
Hardaway continues to struggle from the field as he was just 4 of 14 (29%) on the night and 2 of 8 from deep. The rest of the team picked up the slack and combined to shoot 18 of 32 (56%).
The Big 10 is turning into a conference where winning on the road is a large exception to the norm. Michigan has yet to lose in their own gym this year, going 13-0 thus far.
With 8 games left on the schedule, Michigan will be outside of the friendly confines of the Crisler Center for 5 of them. A team with aspirations of going deep into the NCAA tournament is going to be tested heavily down the stretch.
On tap for Michigan is a Sunday afternoon battle in East Lansing at 1 p.m. eastern. The Spartans have lost 3 in a row in this series and will be out for blood, with or without their injured leader Draymond Green.