ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It's all just beginning.
At least the was Indiana guard Jordan Hulls' message after the No. 2 Hoosiers pulled off a 72-71 win over No. 7 Michigan on Sunday in the Crisler Center.
Indiana (26-5, 14-4) claimed its first outright Big Ten title since 1993, just five days after missing a chance to win it on the Hoosiers' home floor.
"It was very tough to lose at home on senior night (losing 67-58 to No. 14 Ohio State on Tuesday), and we could have clinched it right there. We got better from it like we have after every loss. It was huge for us to be able to come into a tough environment like Michigan. It's a huge win for us, mentally, physically, spiritually, every kind of emotion you could think of.
"We put a lot of hard work in this week, but we are not done yet. We have to keep on, keeping on."
Indiana, which possibly locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament by winning the Big Ten regular-season title outright, showed the resolve of a champion Sunday.
The Hoosiers took a 10-3 lead in the first four minutes, but they fell behind 27-16 with 5:03 to play in the fist half. IU was able to cut its deficit to 33-30 at halftime.
Indiana and Michigan (25-6, 12-6) exchanged the lead 14 times, and the Hoosiers were in a five-point hole with less than a minute to play.
But Cody Zeller scored the game's final six points with two layups and two free throws to seal the win and the outright title.
Indiana already had a share of the title and the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which starts Thursday in Chicago.
"In retrospect, that'll be good and that'll sink in," Indiana coach Tom Crean said of winning the Big Ten crown outright for the 12th time in program history.
Player of the year
Sunday's game was more than just a showdown between two of the nation's top teams, it also featured two of college's best players – Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Michigan's Trey Burke.
But one of those players that everyone keeps pointing to as the possible player of the year wants everyone to remember his teammate in the discussion.
Oladipo, who had 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, said Zeller needs to be the player of the year.
Zeller had 25 points and 10 rebounds in IU's win.
"I've been saying all year long, he should be the player of the year," Oladipo said of Zeller. "If you all don't give it to him, there is something wrong with you all. Cody Zeller should be the player of the year."
Burke scored 20 points against Indiana, but he had to work for those points.
Burke went 7 for 20 from the floor with IU using Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell, Oladipo and others on him. Burke also missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and couldn't get his layup to fall in the final minute of Sunday's loss.
"I was just trying to get him tired, you know slow him down a little bit," Oladipo said of defending Burke. "I feel like picking him up full and denying his touches, kind of got him out of a rhythm a little bit. He's a phenomenal player. He made tough shots and big shots, maybe he didn't have the legs to hit that free throw at the end, who knows?"
After the game, Crean and Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer, a former IU assistant, had a heated exchange.
But Crean would not go into details about what happened.
"I'm not talking about any of that," Crean said. "Ask him."
Message from the president
After Indiana won the outright Big Ten title, university president Michael M. McRobbie sent out this message: "I join IU fans around the world in congratulating Coach Tom Crean and the men's basketball team on winning its first outright Big Ten championship in 20 years. Basketball has a special place in the hearts of Hoosiers everywhere and the resurgence of the basketball program under coach Crean and players such as our senior leaders Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Derek Elston, is a source of great pride for the university.
"With the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments still ahead, I'm looking forward to another month of thrilling basketball by a team that already has given Hoosier Nation more than its share of exciting moments the past two seasons."