Associated Press Indiana head coach Tom Crean watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Thursday, January 26, 2017 10:05 pm
Hoosiers crushed by Wolverines
Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A few of Indiana’s breakdowns were so bad that the defenders couldn’t hide embarrassment.
And Thursday night’s 90-60 loss to Michigan at Crisler Center provided plenty of that.
There was the play late in the first half where Indiana left Moe Wagner wide open under the basket, and Devonte Green fouled him as the ball went in.
As Wagner prepared to take his free throw, Juwan Morgan and Josh Newkirk just threw up their hands in disbelief, no doubt echoing body language of Hoosiers fans everywhere.
If the game were a fight, it might have been stopped at halftime, when Michigan (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) was up 50-35.
"At no point in time was our aggressiveness defensively ever enough to stem the tide," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "It wasn’t the offense when you shoot 55 percent. It was a lack of aggressiveness, on defense, and there’s no excuse. I don’t have one."
Indiana (14-7, 4-4) fell into a 19-point deficit barely more than 11 minutes in, and mostly degenerated from there, with the Wolverines ripping off an 8-0 run early in the second half to go up by 25, and a late 11-0 run, putting them up by 37 and sending even the Wolverines’ fans scrambling for the exits.
"It was a good win for them," said IU center Thomas Bryant, who had 13 points. "They played tougher than us."
The Hoosiers gave up the 90 points to Michigan in just 59 trips, which equates to a mind-boggling 152.5 points per 100 possessions. Michigan easily exceeded its previous season average of 113.5 points per 100 possessions, which had ranked 13th in the nation.
"They had too much space, that’s the bottom line," Crean said. "Our shot challenges were not even close. We had guys go into the game that were not even close to ready to go in and defend. There’s a short turnaround (before facing Northwestern Sunday on the road) to go and get better."
The Wolverines shot 63 percent and filled up the box score. Derrick Walton Jr. led the way with 21 points and five assists, while frontcourt players such as D.J. Wilson (11 points, five rebounds and four blocks), Wagner (14 points) and Duncan Robinson (13) exposed Indiana’s injury-riddled forward positions.
Although Morgan returned from a two-game absence due to an injured left foot, Indiana looked outmanned without OG Anunoby and Collin Hartman and worthy of a spot on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Robert Johnson had a team-high 14 points and five boards, while Bryant scored nine of his 13 in the first half, and that about did it in terms of good news for the visitors, who had ripped off a 28-0 run en route to an 80-67 win in their last trip to Michigan, Feb. 2, 2016.
"You don’t even have to talk about that," Wagner said. "It’s something you remember and take personally. That’s for sure in the back of your mind."
The Hoosiers endured their usual difficulty taking care of the ball, finishing with 16 turnovers, but also struggled to free their shooters. They got off only 13 3-point attempts, none from long-range ace James Blackmon Jr. He was held to four points after having 33 in the Hoosiers’ last game, a win over Michigan State.
"Just look at what we did wrong and correct it, bring a new mindset," Newkirk said. "(What is needed) is being prepared mentally, locking in before the game and warming up right."
Notes: Seldom-used reserve Tim Priller, whom Crean had recently said was ruled unable to travel to road games due to an academic issue, was on the bench and in uniform, perhaps signifying the Hoosiers won an appeal. … IU didn’t attempt a free throw until 15:55 was left.