Michigan 69, Indiana 55

Submitted by Ace on December 2nd, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Jordan Poole saw an opportunity and seized it. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Fifteen seconds into today's game, Michigan star wing Charles Matthews picked up a foul on a rebound attempt. John Beilein sent him to the bench. It was an inauspicious start to Big Ten play against an Indiana squad coming off a tough battle with top-ranked Duke.

Jordan Poole, who'd barely played significant minutes, entered for Matthews. Despite playing untested freshman in place of the team's leading scorer and best defender, Michigan didn't miss a beat, jumping out to a 14-2 lead with four three-pointers. Poole drained two of those triples and didn't stop there; he'd make three more on his way to a team-high 19 points, looking like a major difference-maker for a team that could use an outside shooting boost.

"Today I was getting a lot of open looks," said Poole. "[The coaches] constantly stress 'shoot the open shots,' and not hesitate and try to make a play. If I'm open, shoot it. You don't need to tell me twice."

With Poole leading the charge, Michigan controlled the game from start to finish. The team moved the ball beautifully, tallying 16 assists on 26 field goals and creating open look after open look with crisp passing. A disjointed IU offense couldn't keep up. Only Juwan Morgan (24 points, 9/14 FG) scored in double figures, the Hoosiers had more turnovers (11) than assists (7), and they only got off seven three-point attempts.

"DeAndre Haynes did a great job with the scouting report and our kids lived that scouting report," said John Beilien. "They did a great job."

Eli Brooks did a great job moving the ball around. [Campredon]

While the expected titanic post matchup between Moe Wagner and De'Ron Davis didn't quite come to fruition, Wagner fared better among the centers, scoring 13 points and adding seven rebounds, three assits, three blocks, and a steal. Davis, limited by fouls, scored only four, but Morgan proved a much harder guard for Wagner in the post.

Morgan couldn't keep IU in it on his own, however, while Michigan gave Poole and Wagner plenty of support. Eli Brooks played 22 strong minutes, dishing out six assists to no turnovers, going 2-for-4 from the field, and swiping a couple steals. While John Beilein wouldn't go so far in the postgame press conference, Brooks looks to have taken control of the point guard job with Zavier Simpson as his primary backup; Jaaron Simmons didn't see the floor this afternoon.

Another freshman, Isaiah Livers, contributed four points in ten minutes with Duncan Robinson in foul trouble. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Jon Teske had six points, three boards, and a steal. Only Robinson, who went 2-for-10 from the field, seriously struggled among the rotation players, and his were uncharacteristic misses on good looks.

After going with a disjointed 11-man rotation in the loss to North Carolina, tightening things up a bit—and featuring Poole as the primary backup wing—paid serious dividends today. There's still plenty of work to do; as Beilein noted, Michigan's had only one practice in the last couple weeks that wasn't entirely geared towards preparing for the next game.

There will be more lineup combinations (yes, he mentioned playing two bigs); Simmons will still get a shot to crack the rotation. Today still gave a good idea of what this team will look like in a couple months, and the freshman class of Poole, Brooks, and Livers is going to be a big part of it.

"I love these three freshmen," Beilein said. "I love them."

"They still make me angry every day," he added with a laugh.

He's still John Beilein, after all.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]



December 2nd, 2017 at 4:19 PM ^

Livers isn't ready yet to take on starter minutes.  Makes a lot of mental mistakes.  And we supposedly aren't ready for the Teske+Wagner back line (this certainly wasn't a game to bring it out), so we got Duncan for 24 minutes today.

Duncan was actually fine on defense today, partially because we hid him on Hartman and some other guys that aren't that good. 

Morgan absolutely ate Wagner alive.  6'7 guy just dominated a 6'11 guy in the post.

Any see the Raftery interview with Moe after the game?  Ouch. After Wagner said "I've gotta be better defensively", Raftery goes, "Speaking of the defense, earlier in the game you were one-on-one, and by the end of the game they had triple teams coming at Morgan, does that speak poorly of your defense or is it a great adjustment by a great coach?"....savage, Bill.

Lil boy blue

December 2nd, 2017 at 6:45 PM ^

That interview was pure gold. Raftery also said he was disappointed in his shooting performance .... clearly ribbing Wagner but Wagner didn't sense the sarcasm and responded with honest answers. "Morgan put on a post-up clinic" and said he had to make his shots but he will keep shooting them.

Raftery ended with "I love your humility"

Good stuff


December 2nd, 2017 at 10:37 PM ^

is a concern (at least to me). He often doesn't position himself very well, and has trouble maintaining it when he does. Then he uses his hands to reach and swat after the fact. Going to foul people doing that.
Teske didn't get much mention for it, but his proper use of size with position was part of what discombobulated IU's offense a couple times. Granted, Teske has inches and beef on him, but Wagner needs to improve in this area.

Der Alte

December 3rd, 2017 at 12:39 PM ^

Wagner played the entire game and got hit with just four personals, but it seemed he was more worried about committing fouls than he was about bodying-up on Morgan. Mo kind of let Morgan back him up toward the hoop then Morgan turned around and banked the ball in. Given my infinite (not) BB acumen, I'm not aware than Mo has to yield space to an opposing player when that player wants to back up toward the basket. Why couldn't Mo just hold his ground and make Morgan try and go around him? I'm sure others know a lot more about this than do I.

Anyway, like others I was pleasantly surprised with the way the young guys played. Go Blue.


December 4th, 2017 at 1:32 AM ^

and he really didn't in this one. But Morgan got into Wagner's body and then made moves to get around him (and he actually beat everybody pretty good because he got Livers twice and Duncan and Teske once apiece), which is what a good post player does.  A good defender can still move with a guy and make a play on the ball but Wagner is not a good post defender, nor rim protector.  He even had 4 inches on this guy and was abused.


December 4th, 2017 at 1:34 AM ^

he was getting almost anything he wanted.  Spin moves around guys for easy layups.  None of the fouls called on him were bad and only one of his made shots, other than And1's, was remotely difficult.


December 2nd, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

But today, and most of this season, he hasn't been. He's getting open looks, but it's not going in as much as you'd expect. His defense is still subpar.

If Livers were ready for a lot of minutes, which he isn't, Robinson would move to being a reserve. But Poole is already emerging,  so perhaps the light will go on for Livers soon.

Moonlight Graham

December 2nd, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

There aren't many 1- or 2-and-done players here (hopefully Matthews stays one more year) but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Once last year's, this year's, and next year's classes are all together there's going to be a lot of talent and experience for one of those upperclassman-laden teams that makes a deep run. Every Final Four seems to have one. Not many of those type are able to overcome a team with lots of one-and-doners ('15 Wisconsin v. Duke) but sometimes it happens ('14 UConn v. UK). 


December 2nd, 2017 at 11:06 PM ^

Great to see the continued ascensions of Poole and Brooks today.

Poole not only shot well, he had a great drive and finish, played some aggressive defense, and handled the ball well.  He still makes some expected freshmen mistakes, but he's looked a lot better than Watson so it was good to see him get off the bench first and start to solidify the role of primary 2/3 wing guy off the bench.

And Brooks was really good creating shots.  He drove to force help and kicked for a bunch of threes. Six assists total.

It's been two years since we've had freshmen contribute like this.  Good to see.

All that said, it's clear why IU is 200+ in defensive efficiency.  They were baaad. Let's keep it up against better teams and on the road.


December 2nd, 2017 at 5:11 PM ^

Stating the obvious a bit here but Livers doesn't seem to get the offense quite yet. And he's rushing his jumper. Beilein's system is cerebral as hell, particularly for the 4 setting up in the corner and having to make a lot of quick decisions. 

That said, I'd like to see Matthews play the 4 a bit more with Brooks, MAAR, Poole, and Wagner in a small ball lineup.


December 2nd, 2017 at 5:51 PM ^

struggled with the shot, and he is not at all a good defensive player in an absolute sense, he actually played his best defense I have seen today. He stayed in front of his guy and blocked out several times. Not sayin he is all of a sudden a good defensive player but you have to give him credit for today. He did NOT guard Morgan.

Year of Revenge II

December 3rd, 2017 at 7:29 AM ^

This is looking at it with rose-colored glasses.  It is not that he is not smart---he always TRIES to stay in front and block out---he is terribly slow afoot compared to the people he is guarding.  He may be able to defend you or me just fine, but he is just too slow to guard 3's or 4's on a decent to good team.

We were lucky to have won fairly handily without him playing, for him, a good game.


December 2nd, 2017 at 6:28 PM ^

As others have said, Duncan played his best defense in a while in today's game.  Him at the 4 is part of it - guarding a guy who's not going to be quick.  IU tried to post Duncan up early, but they quickly abandoned simply targeting Robinson at risk of interupting their normal offense.  

It was fun watching the coaching counters and counters-to-counters.  Once IU started getting production out of the low post, Beilein started to double the post to some success.  IU responded by indentifying whomever's man was doubling and immediately having that guy basket cut.  But, too little too late for IU.

What nobody's mentioned is Matthews.  Looked bad today.  Just 19 minutes. I wonder if part of it is a Beilein reaction to some very poor decisions and shots by Matthews in the UNC game.  Today, he had several second half drives into the lane that he bailed on and kicked to a semi-open wing instead of attacking the rim, especially when we needed just that.