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.
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]