ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In the final regular-season contest of the year, the University of Michigan men's basketball team dropped a 69-67 last-minute decision to Indiana, Saturday (March 4), in front of a sold-out crowd (13,751) at Crisler Arena. The game began in favor of the Wolverines (18-9, 8-8 Big Ten), but as the first half wrapped up, it became a back-and-forth shoot-out that ultimately featured five ties and five lead changes. With both teams shooting over 50 percent from the floor in the second half, it turned out to be Indiana's four second-half triples coupled with Michigan's six second-half misses from the charity stripe that gave the Hoosiers the edge they needed to take the two-point victory from the Wolverines.
With this being Michigan's last regular-season home game, the Wolverines honored U-M's eight senior players with a pregame "Senior Day" ceremony at Crisler Arena. In a Michigan tradition, Coach Tommy Amaker started five senior players against the Hoosiers.
Fifth-year senior Hayes Grooms (Detroit, Mich./Birmingham Brother Rice HS), senior Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS), senior Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS), senior Amadou Ba (Nouackott, Mauritania, Africa/Bridgton Academy [Maine] HS), and senior Graham Brown (Mio, Mich./Mio-AuSable HS) all received the starting nod. Senior Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS), senior Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) and fifth-year senior Troy Sanchez (Hemlock, Mich./Hemlock HS) were also honored.
Horton led Michigan with 34 points on 9-of-17 shooting with three triples in his final regular-season game in a Wolverine uniform. His perfect 13-of-13 from the charity stripe kept U-M in the contest throughout the second half, as he made more free throws than the entire Indiana squad. The game marked Horton's fourth with 30 points or more with all of those contests coming this season.
Brown was Michigan's other double-digit scorer, just missing his fourth-career double-double after posting 10 points and nine rebounds in his final regular-season contest in a Wolverine uniform. Brown went 5-of-7 from the floor with one steal in 31 minutes of play, keeping U-M in the game with his physical play and timely shooting.
The game began with a huge Michigan advantage as the Wolverines rattled off 10 straight points, including two triples from Horton, while holding the Hoosiers scoreless. After the quick U-M lead, the game slowed down while both teams struggled with turnovers. Neither team was able to hit anything from the floor for over three minutes until the Hoosiers finally broke the stalemate with their first field goal of the game at 14:03.
Though the Hoosiers didn't take things over right away, they slowly began to heat up over the course of the half. The Wolverines maintained their lead with field goals and free throws, but didn't put together any solid runs that would keep up their significant advantage.
Finally, with 6:34 remaining in the first half, Indiana hit a triple to put them within four (20-16) of Michigan's lead. Four consecutive free throws from Horton kept U-M at a safe distance, but the Hoosiers responded with a 7-0 scoring drive in less than a minute. After leading by 11 early in the half, the Wolverines found themselves holding just a one-point lead (24-23) with 4:34 left on the clock.
As the half wound down, a surge from Brown allowed Michigan to keep its lead over Indiana. Though the Hoosiers matched all of the Wolverines' field goals, two baskets from Brown with under three minutes to play and two points from Horton kept U-M in the lead, 30-27, heading into the locker rooms.
After the somewhat slow first half, both teams came out with hot shooting right out of the gate in the second. Brown continued his scoring streak, hitting back-to-back field goals to start the half, giving the Wolverines a 34-27 lead. Though Indiana managed two points from the floor at 17:50, the first part of the half belonged to the Wolverines who scored another five points care of Horton and sophomore Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) for a 10-point lead (39-29) with 16:11 remaining.
While it looked as though Michigan could ride the game to victory, the Wolverines soon found that the Hoosiers weren't backing down. Over a seven-minute span, Indiana began to chip away at the U-M lead with the help of Michigan turnovers and trouble connecting from the free throw line. Once the dust had settled, the Wolverines were holding on to just a three-point advantage, 41-38, with 12:53 to play.
The remainder of the game was a back-and-forth battle between both teams with the win up for grabs as the clock ticked down. Indiana managed its first lead of the contest with 11:41 to go, connecting on a three-point basket to take a 43-42 lead. The Wolverines again found themselves in a scoring drought, managing just two free throws while the Hoosiers posted an additional seven points.
Down 50-44 with 9:40 to go, Michigan mounted a comeback to reclaim the lead, with Horton starting the scoring drive with a runner in the lane before he and junior Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) combined for three free throws. The 8-0 Wolverine drive was capped off by a triple by junior Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) to take back the lead, 52-50, with 7:26 remaining.
Tension mounted as the clock ticked down, with the two teams trading scoring drives and the lead. Finally, with just 57 seconds remaining, Indiana posted two points to tie the game at 64. Michigan took possession, but was unable to covert the basket and a U-M foul put Indiana at the line for two.
The Hoosiers split the pair to go up 65-64 and the Wolverines took the ball down the court with 30 seconds remaining for a final scoring opportunity. They were again unable to connect from the field, however, and after Indiana grabbed the rebound, Michigan was forced to foul. With just two seconds remaining on the clock, the Hoosiers made both from the charity stripe for a 67-64 lead.
Still only down by a possession, the Wolverines had one final shot to convert a triple with just over two seconds on the clock. Michigan had trouble inbounding the ball, however, allowing the Hoosiers to ultimately take the 69-67 victory.
With the Big Ten regular season concluded, the Wolverines' next contest will take place at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. Michigan will likely be the No. 7 seed to face the No. 10 seed on Thursday, March 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Conseco Fieldhouse. The No. 10 seed will be the loser of Saturday's (March 4) Minnesota at Northwestern contest at 7 p.m. EST.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423