BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Though the University of Michigan men's basketball team dropped a 70-63 decision in their Big Ten opener at No. 16 Indiana, Tuesday (Jan. 3), at Assembly Hall, the Wolverines can't be accused of giving any less than a 100-percent effort from start to finish. In a game dominated by defense, the Maize and Blue never allowed Indiana to run away with the contest, coming back each and every time the Hoosiers went on a run until, finally, they were overtaken in the final 2:30 minutes of play.
Many players on the Wolverine squad played major roles in this solid effort, but senior forward Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./AuSable HS) turned in a career performance. The forward brought down a career-best 21 rebounds, becoming the 13th Wolverine in history to record 20-or-more rebounds in a game and the first Wolverine player to bring down at least 20 boards since Juwan Howard (1992-94) had 20 against Wisconsin on Feb. 10, 1993. Brown's 21 rebounds also set the record for rebounds in a game by a player at IU's historic Assembly Hall, passing the 20 set in 1978 by Alabama's Reggie King.
Brown's hustle and energy had him all over the floor, as he turned in 36 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting to nearly come away with his third-career double-double. He also finished with one assist, one block and two steals.
Senior guard Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) was the leading scorer for the Wolverines, finishing the contest with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting with two triples. Horton showed his calm dominance on the floor, dishing off five assists and grabbing four steals, while playing a full 40 minutes for the Maize and Blue.
Junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) was Michigan's only other player in double figures, finishing with a 19-point total on 8-of-16 shooting with three triples and six rebounds. Harris showed more than just his ability to score points, as many of his shots came in clutch situations. Throughout the game, Harris helped the Wolverines erase large Hoosier leads with timely three-point shots and two-point drives to the hoop.
The game began as a defensive battle, with both teams using their speed and ability to pressure the basketball. The major difference in the first half between the two squads was the amount of shots being rattled off, as the Wolverines attempted 32 shots to Indiana's 23.
Despite their ability to get open looks, however, the pressure of Indiana's defense contributed to Michigan's problem getting those shots to fall. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, had better luck from the outset, making a larger percentage of their shots and drawing key fouls that allowed them to beat out Michigan in the first-half free-throw battle, shooting 6-of-9 from the charity stripe compared to Michigan's 2-of-3.
Through all of the scoring problems Michigan encountered throughout the first half, however, their outstanding defense -- particularly the presence of Brown down low -- allowed them to stay in the game and make a late-half comeback.
Over the course of the half, the Hoosiers were able to put together small runs that would give them significant advantages over the Wolverines. But each time that happened, the Maize and Blue surged back to close the gap and get right back into things.
At 7:11, a 7-3 run by Indiana allowed them to take a 17-10 lead. But Harris turned it up in response, hitting back-to-back field goals, including Michigan's first triple of the game, to put the Wolverines back within two (17-15) at 6:19 in the half.
Though Michigan came close to overtaking Indiana, the Hoosiers put up a run of their own to build their lead back up. It looked as though they would grab a significant advantage to finish the half after going on a 6-2 drive for a 24-17 lead with 2:50 remaining in the half.
But, for the first time in the contest, the Wolverines showed offensive dominance and put together a 7-0 run to tie up the ballgame at the half. The effort was again thanks in large part to five points from Harris, which included his second triple of the game.
After a cold-shooting first half by both teams, the second frame became a shootout as both squads started to light it up. The Wolverines came out of the locker rooms with a spark, putting together a 7-3 run in the first 2:30 minutes to take a 31-27 lead. But Indiana never backed down and the score continued to go back and forth until the Hoosiers finally took a 36-35 lead in with 15:30 remaining.
Though Michigan found their shooting groove to start out the second half, they hit a cold spell over a five-minute span, with their only scoring coming from senior forward Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS), who hit two from the floor. In the meantime, the Hoosiers continued to put points on the board, but Michigan's defense held them to just a six-point lead (45-39) to give Harris the opportunity to drain another triple, putting the Wolverines within three with 11:19 remaining.
Indiana quickly converted a three-point play, but Horton threw up his own shot from beyond the arc to once again put Michigan within three of the lead (48-45) with 9:30 to go. The Hoosiers found a hot streak, however, and hit back-to-back three-point shots, leaving Michigan trailing by their largest deficit of the game, 54-45, with 8:42 remaining.
But when it looked like all was lost, the Wolverines continued to fight and went on a 10-1 run over the next two minutes to tie the game at 55. But fouls and missed shots came back to haunt the Maize and Blue, and the Hoosiers made them pay. With the score at a 59-57 Indiana advantage with 2:57 remaining, the Hoosiers went on an 11-6 run to close out the contest and take the 70-63 win.
The Wolverines will host their Big Ten home opener against Purdue, Saturday (Jan. 7) at Crisler Arena. The game against the Boilermakers will be highlighted by a halftime ceremony recognizing former U-M All-American Bill Buntin (1963-65), as his No. 22 jersey will be honored and raised to the Crisler Arena rafters. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:07 p.m. with the game broadcast on the Big Ten's ESPN-Plus regional package.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423