Game 26: Indiana at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Photo Credit: MGoBlue

Inconsistency has plagued Michigan all season long but the last two games have upped the ante. For the second game in a row Michigan opened up a seemingly comfortable second half lead before falling asleep at the wheel. This time it was a 22 point lead with 5:26 left to play in the second half that crumbled into a four point win. A win is a win but finishing two games in a row with a relative lack of conviction certainly leaves a bitter after taste.

Getting to the free throw line is a primary goal of any offense in basketball. Today, against one of the most foul happy teams in the Big Ten, Michigan attempted a season high 37 free throws. Those free throw attempts (something I listed as a key in my preview) just happened to be Michigan’s undoing. The Wolverines made just 19 of those 37 attempts (51%) and missed freebie after freebie down the stretch, a primary reason the lead crumbled. Luckily, Michigan played well enough for the first 10 to 15 minutes of each half that it could afford to limp to the finish line.

Beyond the free throw woes and late game mistakes, Michigan’s offense played very well. Michigan shot 54% on twos and 53% on threes (both better than its 51% on FTs) for an effective field goal percentage of 62.8%. After shooting just 1 of 5 from three point range in the first half, Michigan went 7 of 10 from three in the second half. Numerous Michigan players are shooting the ball with confidence from the perimeter but it also feels like the quality of three point attempt has increased significantly over the last several games.

Michigan only turned the ball over on 17% of its possessions but five of the Wolverines’ 12 turnovers occurred in the final 4:30 of the game. Michigan had just one offensive rebound in the game for a meager 4% offensive rebounding rate. Michigan’s offensive efficiency came crashing to a halt in both halves after the Wolverines were in the bonus. This chart tells the story:


You can see that Michigan’s efficiency by half essentially tops out right before Indiana commits its seventh foul (circled in blue). This obviously makes sense when you consider the 18 points that Michigan left off the line but it also shows just how well Michigan played in other aspects of the game beyond the free throw line.

Michigan played great defense for stretches but Indiana found numerous wide open looks over the final 10 minutes. Overall, Michigan held Indiana to a respectable .99 points per possession. As sobering as it may be, this was just the second time that Michigan’s defense held a Big Ten opponent to under 1.00 points per trip. The Hoosiers posted an effective field goal percentage of 51% — 56% on twos and 25% on threes. Michigan fouled a bit too much, allowing a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 40%. However, Michigan’s defensive rebounding performance was just what the doctor ordered as the Wolverines grabbed 76% of Indiana’s misses. Forcing turnovers was a bit of a mixed bag. Michigan turned Indiana over 10 times in the first half compared to just 3 in the second half.

On an individual level, Michigan did a good job neutralizing several Hoosiers. Jordan Hulls scored 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting but didn’t make a three (0-4), Stu Douglass deserves credit for his off-the-ball defense here. Verdell Jones III and Christian Watford were productive down the stretch but Morris, Novak, and others did a great job negating them early on.

Most didn’t expect Michigan to hold a 16-10 (6-7 B10) record at this point in the season but now here they are. The final six games on Michigan’s schedule are undoubtedly difficult but this team is also playing significantly better and more confident basketball. Michigan probably needs three more wins to have a realistic shot but all that we can do is focus on the next game. That means a Wednesday night road trip to Champaign, IL. Despite the notion that the Illini are crumbling, they have only lost one home game this season (Ohio State).

Photo Credit: MGoBlue

Player Bullets:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: The freshman wing continues to improve. Today he put together his most efficient scoring game of his career: 26 points on 9 of 11 (4-6 3pt) shooting with three rebounds, two steals, and four turnovers. If you are keeping track, that’s a 100% effective field goal percentage. Hardaway has been hot from three and when he’s hitting those, the rest of his game opens up. The turnovers (4) were a bit frustrating but you can live with them with that shooting performance. Hardaway can fill up the score sheet in a hurry, today he had 11 straight Michigan points. He is obviously learning what’s a good shot and a bad shot and despite his turnover concerns he seemed to have a very clear idea of what he wanted to do with the ball whenever he touched it.
  • Darius Morris: There were some good parts to Morris’ game today: he attacked the basket, shot 50% from the field, pulled down six defensive rebounds, and dished out five assists. Unfortunately, he also played an instrumental role in Michigan’s late game crumble as he turned the ball over three times in the final four minutes. To Morris’ credit, he did hit the final two free throws that truly put the game out of reach.
  • Stu Douglass: After seeming to hit rock bottom in Columbus, Stu is starting to find his shooting groove again. Today, he had 13 points on 5 of 9 (3-5 3pt) shooting with two rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Over the last three games, Douglass has connected on eight of his last 12 three point attempts.
  • Zack Novak: Novak quietly had an extremely efficient game with 10 points on 2 of 6 (1-3 3pt) shooting, seven defensive rebounds, six assists, and a steal. The six assists further the notion that teams are doing more to take Novak out of the offense but that’s leaving other people available for open shots.
  • Jordan Morgan: Michigan seemed to go away from Morgan a bit (he also found himself in foul trouble) and he missed a couple bunnies (2-5) that he made against Northwestern. Morgan fouled out and had just two rebounds. Morgan got double teamed once in the first half, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of.
  • Evan Smotrycz: 17 minutes, 3 points (1-3 shooting), three rebounds, two steals, an assist, block, and four fouls. Smotrycz recorded a lot of marks on the stat sheet but it wasn’t necessarily his best game. He played more on the block offensively than we’ve seen but had a little bit of trouble finishing after earning good position.
  • Jon Horford: I thought Horford gave Michigan some quality minutes in the first half. He played solid defense and moved his feet well while defending the screen and roll. He didn’t make his only field goal attempt (that he probably should have made) but was still solid overall.
  • Colton Christian: 3 minutes in the first half and not a lot to remember. Of course, that’s both good and bad.
  • jmblue

    One thing I didn’t understand: why did we pull all our guys out of the lane when we were shooting FTs? I can understand doing that at the very end of the game when you don’t want to give up a quick score, but why all game?

    • JimC

      I noticed that, but I think it was only in the 2nd half when M was trying to protect the lead & prevent fast breaks.

    • lavell99

      Don’t forget, Indiana was in the double bonus by then so any meaningless foul puts them on the line with very little clock run off. Beilein was playing the percentages. Missing that many free throws in one game is a statistical anomaly.

  • Brian W

    When the usually reliable Stu Douglass missed his two free throws short that was a bad omen of what was to come. The youngsters can use this as a learning experience, though. As Darius Morris said “I don’t know about everybody else, but I will be shooting a lot of free throws.”

    If you haven’t read Sam’s game recap tonight regarding Javontae Hawkins and Denzel Watts in the comments of the Larry Nance Jr. video, it’s interesting stuff.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Stu actually is just 2 of 8 on the year before this game. He’s not very reliable because he never shoots FTs.

      • Brian W

        I guess perception is different than reality. I’ve never viewed Stu as a liability at the line. He made 21-for-27 from the free throw line last year.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Did they do it all game? I’d have to double check but one of the big reasons is that Indiana likes to run and that’s where Hulls does a lot of his work in transition. Can you think of a single free throw where we got an offensive rebound? I don’t think I can.

    Here’s Crean’s post game if you are interested… An interesting character. His quote on Hardaway “He punked us.”

  • Tweeter

    Well here we are. This team has put itself in a position to play its way into the tournament. Now the fun begins. I dont know if they can do it, but it should be great to watch them try.

    On the Indiana game: First, gotta say great effort today by Stu on D. He gets maligned a lot and I have gotten on him a couple times this year, but he really put a ton of energy into chasing around Hulls and it paid off big time.

    Second, I never thought I would say this, but at times it felt like we were trying too hard to get to the rim. I never want guys to just settle for threes, but man, a lot of good shooters passed up some pretty good looks today. The big thing with that is, when you play teams like NW or Indiana that dont have shot blockers or even guys that can really challenge you at the rim, by all means we need to attack aggresively when its there. But when we play some bigger teams, like an Illinois, Im not sure we can afford to pass up those looks. Its one thing to attack when there has been great ball reversal and defenders are out of position, but a lot of times today it just seemed like (Dmo in particular), we “slow dribbled” into the paint and created shots.

    Third, this team still has not been able to put together a great game of defense. Its getting closer, but I dont think we will see a total defensive effort until next season.

    Fourth, what Beilein does with the starting lineup come Wednesday will be a very good indicator of his confidence in the bigs. Illinois is pretty tall across the board and matchup wise it seems like it screams start Smotrycz, but I wouldnt be surprised to see Douglass out there again.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I don’t put a lot of weight in the “starters” but it will be interesting what Beilein does. Davis and Tisdale are a load. Especially when you throw in Jereme Richmond (6-8 slasher) and Bill Cole (6-9 jumpshooter). They don’t crash the glass like a team like Minnesota but it’s damn near impossible for Michigan to contend some of those shots. It could be a huge chance to Smotrycz to step up.

      • Tweeter

        yea i dont put a lot of weight in it either, but I think it can be used as an indication at times of what lineup Beilein feels most confident in. He stressed after the NW game that starting Stu was due to the fact he felt like that put his best lineup out there to matchup with NW. It would seem like just based purely on matchups that Michigan would be better suited to start Smotrycz on wEdnesday, but if he starts Stu again, I think you can read a little into that. I do agree with you completely, that Illinois will provide a great opportunity for Smottrycz to prove himself.

  • BeileinsBricks

    The amazing thing on the free throw stat is I think we were 8-8 to start the game. That means we went 11-29 the rest of the game. That’s absolutely astounding, and here’s hoping this is a one-off, but wow. It’s also amazing that Stu is a 25% free throw shooter. Really weird numbers all-around.

  • AG2

    Hardaway “punked” Indiana? I thought he was just trying to school Oladipo after he got his pocket picked for dunks.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      He seemed to mean it in a good way.

      • CJD

        No doubt he meant it in a good way; he went into great depth on THJ’s total game improvement and that he was a very good player who will only get better.

  • A mostly dominant performance today, all late game meltdowns aside. Really great writeup as well, Dylan. Your writing and analysis have both improved greatly.

    Though it’s been said already, I’d like to give big ups to Stu again for his defense on Hulls. Hulls had trouble getting open all day, and the catalyst for Indiana could never get anything going. This is the second game in which Stu has really impressed me with D’ing up the opposing team’s biggest threat, the first being his D against Battle the second time we played PSU.

    Stu continues to come up with big 3’s and great D, but also frustrates to no end with careless turnovers and seemingly ill-advised trips to the tin. He’s certainly gotten better as the season progresses, and has arguably hit the biggest shot of the year against MSU, but I would love to see him clean up his handle by his senior season. Part of that will be neutralized with Burke backing up Morris at the 1 so that Stu won’t have to handle the ball so much, but still…

    • UMHoops Fan

      Stu had zero TOs yesterday

  • lordfoul

    It is interesting how few threes this team is taking during the recent 5-1 run. Glaring especially compared to the percentage of shots that were threes during the six game skid:

    @Wisky – vs Minn = 55% of shots were 3pts

    @State – vs Indy = 41% of shots were 3pts

    Looks like driving to the hoop brings more success for this crew…

    • lordfoul

      Sorry, I was a bit off on my calculation of the % 3pt during the losing streak. The number is actually 48%, still a rather large difference.

    • Jeff

      It’s been interesting to see the dilemna that defenses are now facing against our offense, now that our 3 pt-shooting has improved so much. It’s definitely a pick your poison thing. They’re being forced to stick with our shooters out on the perimeter, which is opening things up underneath. It’s how the offense is supposed to work, but it’s the first time in four years we actually have a team that shoots well from three.

      • SteinerBlue

        @ Jeff. You’re right in stating this is how the offsense was supposed to look like. It’s taken 4 years, but Coach B finally has enough of his type of player to run the offense. I’m looking forward to seeing this offense flourish as the young guys continue to develop and the new guys get plugged in.

  • CJD

    Tale of to halves; once again when they press the ball into the paint even if it gets kicked out we have success. When we settle for shots late in the clock or with little ball movement we struggle.

    It really is simple when there is motion in the motion offense we do well when there is not we don’t.

    I wish we would run more curls and back door cuts for THJ and Novack when the ball is in the high post in Morgan’s hands. Morgan pulls the big away from the rim and opens up the paint. Heck maybe even run the curls for Morris so he can finish going to his right.

  • KAB

    Dyaln,do you think because of IL size that we might see Morgan and Horford in the game together at times?

    • Beast1530

      I think that JB is going to start Smotrycz instead of Douglass because of the matchup Illini present. Morgan and Horford together won’t do because both are foul happy and is detriment to the overall team play with either of them on foul trouble.

    • sven

      Illinois has height. The don’t have size. A 4 year old girl could push any of their “bigs” around.

  • KAB

    Sorry about the typo.I mean Dylan..

  • Dford

    Dang Dylan, you going ham on a team of youngsters who we didn’t expect to come this far this year. That’s a sign that we are starting to believe in this Mich team to the point where we are expecting more. Anyhow, very true about free throws being a liability, we need those type of buckets if we expect to beat a Wisconsin or a frustrated Mich st down the strecth because we all know that if we get lucky enough ( lord willing lol) to beat one or both, then it was probably was the charity shots that made it happen. This team definitely can’t afford the luxury of missing 20 something free throws on any giving night and that needs to be addressed pronto. With that said I am happy we got the V, go blue!!!

  • Mattski

    I am salivating for some skinny on the Illini, glad that–as Beilein said–M is going to be rested for every game down the stretch. “We will have a good plan,” he said; gotta love it. Who’s got thoughts or info?

    • JimC

      IL has a tall frontcourt. Unfortunately after this great stretch that game looks like an L.
      But if we pull off the W, then the tourney is really in sight!

  • Michael4

    I watched the game on TV but couldn’t tell why did Morris get the T after Rivers T? I couldn’t tell what he did? Also THJ continues to impress me. His ability to score (at times) almost at will is just amazing.

    • bird

      Novak’s expression, or lack thereof, as he walked away from Rivers was priceless. It was like he was scared to blink or draw any attention to himself, lest the refs realize he just got away with one.

      • Jeff

        Yeah, he got away with a little shot there on Rivers. Don’t know what Morris did, must have been for something he said. We seem to have three players–Novak, Morris, and Morgan–who don’t mind getting a little chippy, which isn’t a bad thing.

  • Brian W

    U-M women’s team takes on MSU at the Breslin at 2:30 on ESPN2. I’m making the trek with some other U-M fans. Should be interesting. The Lady Wolverines are currently in fourth place in the Big Ten, with Sparty at the top of the standings.

  • maxwell’s demon

    KenPom now predicting 18 wins with 17 a bit more likely than 19. I gotta think Illinois is least likely to happen, but you never know.

  • KAB

    I like our chances against IL more than Wisconsin.It just seems like we never beat Wisconsin…We need to win one of the two though.

    • BeileinsBricks

      Agreed. I think Beilein is 0-9 versus Wisconsin, and they’re always a tough matchup because of their size and shooting (and the fact they get away with all the grappling). Will take a look at the Purdue Illinois game tonight to see how the Illini look. Let’s hope for a triple overtime game so they’re very tired when we play them.

  • GoBlue1980

    Must win games: MSU at home: Winning this game would give us 17 victories overall and seven in the Big Ten. Losing this game leaves us little margin for error.

    Must win 2 out of these 4 games: @Illinois, @Iowa, Wisconsin at home and @Minnesota: If we win two of these games that takes us to 19 wins and 9-9 in the Big Ten, and puts us in excellent shape with the Selection Committee given our overall strength of schedule. Winning three of these games makes us a metaphysical certitude to get invited. Winning all four makes John Beilein the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Wouldn’t be ironic if a win at Minnesota essentially punched our ticket just as it did two years ago?

    • Mith

      I think its far from a metaphysical certainty that a 9-9 mark gets us in a tourney. It would get us right into the discussion though.

  • georgeesq.

    I think some of us are getting ahead of ourselves. Illinois, Wiscy and Minnesota are all bad match-ups for us. We won’t be favored to win any of those. MSU? Who knows what shape they will be in by March 5. Toss up most likely. At Iowa is winnable, but they have improved a ton and have been extremely tough at home. We could lose all 5. I’d take 2 wins and be thrilled with three.

    • JimC

      Agreed. Got to curb the enthusiasm a little.

  • rlc

    I thought the game in Champaign would be the toughest of the remaining games, but Purdue is making the Illini look bad right now. I’ll be happy if they’re still in disarray when we arrive…

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Purdue is also the third best team in the Big Ten though.

      • BeileinsBricks

        Purdue’s defense is fierce. They make lots of teams look terrible. No surprise why they stomped us at Crisler. Our best hope is that Illinois gets deflated after this game. They seem like a really good ballclub.

        • sven

          And we’re the 4th best.

      • rlc

        Oh, at least – they’re definitely a better road team than Bucky Badger, and after the game in West Lafayette on Wednesday I expect Purdue to move into second in the conference and stay there.

        But Weber hasn’t succeeded in making McCamey a better player by ripping him in the press, and the team doesn’t seem to be playing up to its potential. I hope it lasts at least one more game.

  • KAB

    Agreed,good point Dylan…

  • Alex

    Illinois taught us something today: hustle plays are huge. If the team gives a full effort for the entire game there will be a chance. Wonder if Mcamey comes off the bench.