Michigan 69, Indiana 46

Michigan 69, Indiana 46 Comment Count

Alex Cook January 25th, 2019 at 8:55 PM

As Michigan settled into the first possession of the game, the officials stopped play and spent several minutes with the clock operators. That was probably the highlight for Indiana; after play resumed, the Wolverines ran the Hoosiers out of the gym. It took seven minutes of game time for IU to score, and by then, Michigan had already built a 17-point lead. Indiana briefly threatened to make it competitive after halftime, but this game was over as soon as the folks at Assembly Hall figured out how to fix the clock. The 23-point margin of victory was easily Michigan’s largest ever in that famous arena.

The Wolverines scored on seven of their first nine possessions to open the game. Ignas Brazdeikis hit a wing three after a series of ball-screens; Zavier Simpson beat Juwan Morgan off the dribble for a layup; Simpson found Poole in the corner for a three; good ball movement gave Iggy an open lane for two; Jon Teske stole a post entry and Simpson scored in transition. Archie Miller called a timeout once the score reached 12-0. After the timeout, Morgan committed a careless turnover, Charles Matthews knocked down an open three, and a blown ball-screen coverage led to a Teske dunk. Indiana’s defense on ball-screens early in the game was inconsistent and extremely vulnerable, and Michigan took advantage.

Michigan’s scoring to start the game — 17 points in just over five minutes — was very impressive, but Indiana was able to slow the Wolverines down and held them to a respectable 1.05 points per possession over the entire game. Michigan’s formidable defense was enough to prevent any real chance of a comeback, though. Indiana’s first twelve possessions of the game came up empty: eight missed shots and four turnovers. It was a dominant performance on that end of the floor for the Wolverines, as the Hoosiers were held to their worst offensive output of the season (0.70 PPP). Indiana’s effective field goal percentage (30.2%) was their worst since January 2014.

It was one of those games where Michigan’s defense broke the will of its opponent. Charles Matthews decisively won another matchup against Indiana’s star freshman, Romeo Langford, allowing just one made shot as his primary defender (Langford finished with nine points on 12 shot equivalents). The Hoosiers rely on getting to the rim, and shot just 13-38 on twos — much of the credit should go to Teske, Isaiah Livers, and the rest of the Michigan defense for contesting nearly every shot inside. Langford’s drives, Morgan’s post-ups, and easy looks generated for role players are essential for the Indiana offense, but they shot just 34% on twos. They’re the worst three-point shooting team in the Big Ten and went 3-20 on threes.

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The Wolverines went into a prolonged funk on offense in the first half after that initial outburst, but it didn’t matter. Iggy’s early three portended a quality performance from the freshman: he finished with an efficient 20 points, and some interesting tweaks — like running pick-and-pop action with him as the screener — helped open up his game. His teammates were ice cold for a long stretch, but Iggy was aggressive and kept scoring. Langford was subbed back in with two fouls at the 11-minute mark, and Iggy immediately drove at him and muscled in an and-one layup to give Langford his third foul. A right-handed finish over Evan Fitzner and a tough reverse layup helped break brief dry spells.

Michigan’s malaise over the latter part of the half left Indiana some hope, and for how lopsided the game was early on, the Hoosiers had managed to enter the break down just 33-18. After halftime, Indiana was able to string together quality offensive possessions — a physical Langford post-up, a slick move in the post by Morgan, a surprising Justin Smith drive, and a nice catch and finish from Morgan — punctuated by an Iggy three. That last Morgan bucket cut Michigan’s lead to ten and prompted a Beilein timeout; shortly after, Rob Phinisee knocked down a three to trim it to nine. On the next possession, Simpson found Iggy in the corner for a rebuttal.

From there, Matthews put the game out of reach. He pump-faked to get Morgan in the air — and was inadvertently kicked in the back of the head going up for the shot. After a TV timeout, he knocked down both free throws. On the next two possessions, Morgan switched a ball-screen and Matthews patiently dribbled into a three, then Michigan ran some action to get him going left to right and he nailed a pull-up two from the top of the key. That shot pushed the score to 48-32 with 15 minutes left, an insurmountable deficit for an offense that was shooting so poorly. Indiana only made it to 46.

The Hoosiers are imploding (they’ve lost six games in a row and have been blown out in their last two home games), but it was an encouraging performance for Michigan in a tough environment. The Wolverines played a nearly perfect five minutes to start the game, and while it wound up being a relatively middling offensive performance, the elite defense that vaulted Michigan to the top of the rankings early this season was as good as ever throughout. A home contest against Ohio State is up next; the Buckeyes are also reeling (having lost five in a row ahead of tomorrow’s game at Nebraska).

[Box score after the JUMP]


Chart? Chart! Defending Morgan and Langford

Chart? Chart! Defending Morgan and Langford Comment Count

Alex Cook January 11th, 2019 at 6:30 PM

A couple of weeks ago, the MGoBraintrust assembled at a secret location somewhere in Ann Arbor to discuss Official Business. During that meeting of the minds, Brian suggested that I chart a basketball game. “Just chart one thing,” he said. “Don’t do it like a UFR,” he said.

So I didn’t. A basketball UFR — like this one — would be a herculean endeavor for me, and my grading would be tenuous and subjective (and likely ill-informed) at best. Instead, I watched film to focus on a small but essential facet of the game. Defense is harder for most laypeople to judge compared to offense, especially during a live game. It’s obvious Michigan is good, but how? And why? A lofty defensive efficiency ranking, strong four factor metrics, and counting blocks and steals for individual players only tells you so much. We notice a lot during games, but miss a lot too.

I rewatched the game, took notes, and feel like I learned a lot. Indiana’s top two players — senior big Juwan Morgan and freshman swingman Romeo Langford — are All-Big Ten level talents, and they’re pretty much the only two offensive options for Indiana, especially without their starting point guard, Rob Phinisee.

I charted all of their touches:

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Click on images to enlarge

[Clips, breakdowns, and analysis after the JUMP]


Michigan 74, Indiana 63

Michigan 74, Indiana 63 Comment Count

Alex Cook January 6th, 2019 at 8:42 PM

Against the best opponent they’ve faced in over a month, Michigan got off to a fast start and managed to keep Indiana at arm’s length for a comfortable win. The Wolverines scored on 10 of their first 11 possessions and managed to draw two fouls on each of Indiana’s stars within the first four minutes of the game. Michigan led 9-6 when Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford each committed their second fouls on the same possession, and went on a 23-7 run from there. While Indiana managed to briefly cut the deficit to seven in the second half, the game was never really close.

Charles Matthews set the tone for Michigan. The senior wing faced a head-to-head matchup with Langford, a projected NBA lottery pick, and seemed to relish the opportunity. On Indiana’s first possession, Indiana ran a horns set for Langford, and Matthews stole it from him — forcing Langford to give a transition foul. Matthews drove and forced a tripping foul on Morgan. He hit a three after Langford helped off him in the corner. He rejected a side ball screen, drove baseline, and then dunked on Langford for an and-one. He made all of those plays before the first TV timeout.

Archie Miller subbed Morgan and Langford out, and Matthews continued to dominate. He harassed Zach McRoberts into a travel, then scored after steals in short succession — he swiped the ball from Al Durham and made an acrobatic layup over three defenders in transition, then he swiped a pass and threw down a big two-handed dunk. Matthews made highlight plays on both ends throughout the first half, totaling 16 points, two made threes, and three steals. Langford would wind up scoring 17 points (and Matthews finished with 18), but the latter decisively won the matchup with his impact early in the game.

He and Jordan Poole paced a Michigan offense that scored 1.42 points per possession and only turned it over twice in the first half. Poole hit threes on back to back possessions to start Michigan’s big run, he operated the pick-and-roll well, and finished with 12 points in the half. Miller subbed Morgan and Langford back in an attempt to stave off that run, but the Wolverines stayed hot. An Eli Brooks pocket pass to Brandon Johns — who contributed solid minutes for the first time this season — produced a layup and a 32-13 Michigan lead with 8:30 left in the first half. The Hoosiers only managed to cut it to 15 by halftime.



After the half, Morgan began to drag Indiana back into the game. He was very active in the first half — scoring 10 points on 13 shot equivalents — against Jon Teske in the post, and stepped out and hit a pick-and-pop three late in the half. After the break, Indiana gave him the ball on their first three possessions: he scored a tough bucket over Teske, and then drew the second and third fouls on Michigan’s starting center. Johns fared better than Austin Davis in relief of Teske, as the latter committed a handful of fouls on Morgan in the second half. Neither were able to slow Morgan down though, and he finished with a game-high 25 points.

Michigan led by 16 with 14:30 left in the game when Indiana went on a quick 7-0 run, capped by a Devonte Green three-pointer on a botched switch. Johns capped off a long possession with a put-back dunk to stem the bleeding, but then Langford scored on back-to-back trips, the second of which came off a Morgan offensive rebound. The lead was down to seven with over ten minutes left in the game, and the Hoosiers were threatening. Zavier Simpson scored a big basket, getting into the lane and scoring with his sweeping hook, to stop the run, then he dished an assist to Matthews underneath.

Ignas Brazdeikis, who had a relatively quiet game by his standards, was fouled by Morgan on a jumper off a side ball-screen; it was Morgan’s fourth — and many of the others had been similarly senseless. Simpson had a few more assists with passes to Johns on the pick-and-roll (one of which he dunked) and the game was on ice. Michigan was able to outpace Indiana in a more offensively-oriented contest, which never was that competitive. Matthews and Poole were effective, particularly as Michigan built its lead, and Johns provided a nice lift off the bench with Livers out again.

Michigan’s now 15-0 and 4-0 in Big Ten play — tied with Michigan State atop the conference. The Wolverines and Hoosiers each had players out due to injury, and the early fouls on Morgan and Langford put Indiana in too deep of a hole to dig out of on the road against a top five team. The Wolverines will test their undefeated record on the road against Illinois (possibly the worst team in the league) on Thursday night.

[Box score after the JUMP]