Michigan picked up its first road win of the season with a wire-to-wire victory over the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon.

The win was the second in a row for a Wolverine team that has teetered back-and-forth on the NCAA Tournament bubble. While the game felt critical for both teams’ postseason hopes, Michigan looked to be the sharper and more engaged team from the opening jump.

Derrick Walton buried his first three-point shot of the game and led the way throughout. The Michigan senior reached 20 points for the fifth consecutive game and finished with 25 points on 13 shot attempts while getting some help from his frontcourt.

Sophomore big man Moritz Wagner recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 boards while DJ Wilson put together a few dazzling stretches to finish with an all-around stat line of 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks and two assists.

Michigan’s offense experienced a few classic road woes — the Wolverines were stuck on 35 points from 3:25 to play in the first half to 15:43 to play in the second — but in the end they managed 1.17 points per possession, a hair above their conference-leading average. This is the best offense in the conference by an increasingly impressive gap and now the 9th best offense in the country.

While the offense was efficient in both halves, the script flipped from at the break. In the first, the Wolverines missed some easy looks inside (7-of-17 on twos), but made their threes (6-of-10 on threes). In the second, the easy shots inside the arc started falling (11-of-15 on twos) while the perimeter shots went cold (2-of-12). As always, those easy twos are a barometer for the Wolverines and they were critical in the 2nd half.

Michigan’s defense got the job done once again and was the reason that Indiana was never able to come all the way back. The Wolverines held Indiana to .98 points per possession and looked prepared, engaged and active on that end of the floor. Indiana took advantage of 1-on-1 matchups in the post, but the Wolverines forced turnovers on 23% of Indiana’s possessions which led to 20 points in the other direction. Michigan has forced turnovers on at least 20% of its opponents possessions in 5 of their last 6 games and that has allowed a defense that still doesn’t force many misses to succeed.

Michigan also took away the three-point shot, holding the Hoosiers to 0-of-6 from deep in the first half and 4-of-19 for the game. Crean might disagree, but this was a good performance by the Wolverines. James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson combined to score just 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting and didn’t get many quality attempts.

The last two wins have definitely righted the ship, evening Michigan’s conference record at 6-6, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. There aren’t any gimmies left on the schedule, and Michigan still needs at least three more victories to feel decent about its NCAA Tournament chances. A Thursday night win over Wisconsin would help, but beating the league’s best team is no easy feat — even at home.

Player Bullets:

  • Derrick Walton: If it wasn’t clear already, Walton is the outlier that John Beilein was searching for a couple of weeks back. He scored 20 points for the 5th consecutive game (also his 5th straight ‘KenPom MVP’ performance) and was the best player on the floor all night. He opened the game with a quick three, he attacked the basket, racked up three steals, four assists and carried the Wolverines before knocking in 9 clutch free throws late. He got sped up for a couple of possessions in a row twice in the first half, but 25 points on 13 shots is yet another incredible performance.
  • DJ Wilson: There are moments when Wilson looks like a pro and others where maybe he forgets there’s a game going on. The good news is that those moments are tending in the right direction. Wilson continues to struggle when combo forwards drive right at him, but his length can be so disruptive in help situations and it was today (3 steals, 3 blocks). Offensively I loved the wrinkle to play more 1-4 (Walton-Wilson) pick-and-pop action. Wilson did a great job of driving off of pass/shot fakes in that action and finishing at the rim. His turnaround jumper from 15-feet? It still feels like he overcomplicates it, but the result was beautiful.
  • Moritz Wagner: Wagner only made 2-of-7 shots inside the arc and was 1-of-3 at the free throw line, but his energy was all over the game. This was his first career double-double and the rebounding motor on both ends of the floor was as impressive as I’ve seen from him.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-RahkmanQuietly, Abdur-Rahkman has emerged as a very efficient offensive option. He picked his moments and finished with 7 points on 2-of-3 shooting, four rebounds and two assists. Perhaps the most surprising stat is that Abdur-Rahkman is 14-of-27 (52%) from three-point range in Big Ten play.
  • Xavier SimpsonFor the second game in a row, Simpson showed some encouraging flashes. He had a great drive-and-dish to Donnal and followed it up with a drive all the way to the hoop on back-to-back possessions. The fact that Beilein was confident enough to give him solid minutes in both halves is a real endorsement of his progress and could be a big boost down the stretch.
  • Duncan Robinson: Robinson gave Michigan exactly what it needed off the bench: quick strike offense. He finished with 8 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 13 minutes. He’s shooting the three well, but he’s also consistently creating baskets inside the arc with great cutting and had another of those today.
  • Mark DonnalDonnal knocked in a 12-footer and finished a ball screen layup, scoring 4 points in 8 minutes, but he struggled in man-to-man post defense against De’Ron Davis. I was surprised that Michigan didn’t bring the double, but Donnal’s struggles caused Beilein to go quickly to Teske in the first half.
  • Zak IrvinIrvin’s slump continued (5 points on 1-of-8 shooting) despite a great and-one layup that looked like it might get him settled in. Many of his missed jumpers weren’t even close to going in and at some point the Wolverines are going to need his offense. He played 32 minutes and was +16 while on the floor (2nd best on the team), and did manage to contribute 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
  • Jon Teske: Teske got a first half shift, but promptly demonstrated why he’s still trying to work his way into the rotation with a wild miss off of a ball screen.  

Photos from Jamie Owens at Inside the Hall.

  • A2MIKE

    Good W. Beat Wisconsin!

  • gobluemd16

    Really great win, especially at Assembly Hall. Derrick was phenomenal yet again, and you can tell he doesn’t want his senior year ending the way was headed a couple weeks ago. Great contributions from most of the other guys, and X looked great off the bench. Boy, Zak’s shot looks horrible. I get that he has played good D recently and can contribute in other ways, but teams are going to start sagging off of him. Wish we would play X, in the 3-guard lineup, or Duncan a bit more in his place.

    • robpollard

      Zak needs the car keys taken away. There is absolutely zero reason he should be shooting *five* 3-pters a game. That is just dumb.

      I said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until Beilein or someone drills it into his head — he needs to focus on quality 2’s, drives to the basket, getting assists and playing hard D. He’s not doing that, which is really disappointing for a senior.

      While not everyone can respond like Walton has (he’s been amazing), Irvin needs to realize he has plenty of ways he can contribute beyond jacking up a bunch of ill-advised deep shots every game. Get it together.

  • Wayman Britt

    Nice win. The defense looked pretty good again. Mo is starting to rebound and continues to get under the skin of players and coaches (that is what you get Crean for always running on the floor). That is exactly what UM needed, a little moxie.

    We just gotta beat the Badgers, I am tired of them squeaking out wins at the end against UM or just flat out beating us.

  • ChathaM

    I love beating IU anywhere, but at Assembly Hall is outstanding. The defensive effort was again strong, but we’re also witnessing some regression taking place re: opponents’ 3-point shooting. There were many IU missed 3’s today that opponents were routinely making over the first half+ of the season. Hopefully, that continues. You can’t really expect that from game to game, but stats do have a way of balancing themselves.

    I was hoping for 2 wins in this 3-game stretch (vs. OSU and MSU, at IU), so it was a successful stretch in my mind. We seem to be playing pretty good ball right now, but we all know how tenuous that is. I’m also looking at the next 3 game stretch as a win-2-of-3 proposition. If one of those wins can come against Wisconsin, then I’ll be confident in our tourney hopes.

    I’ll admit that I was getting very worried about point guard play next season, but the last 2 games from X have trimmed that worry. He’s made some very good decisions at the offensive end to pair with what we already knew were great defensive abilities.

  • Indiana_Matt

    “There are moments when Wilson looks like a pro and others where maybe he forgets there’s a game going on.”

    Sadly hilarious and perfectly describes my thoughts. I have faith he’s gonna put it all together eventually. He has two more years.

  • jemblue

    We’re 6-6 in league play, but we’ve outscored our opponents by over 4 ppg. That suggests we’re better than our record shows – we just let some close games slip away. I don’t see why we can’t win at least 3 more.

  • Stephen Chang

    Solid win, time to take care of business at home on Thursday!

  • Chace

    Well Wisconsin just lost…. of course now it will be harder to beat them not sure if the best team in the league will drop 2 straight…… hope we can get it done!!!

    • A team losing doesn’t always mean that they will play better in their next game. Example: IU after losing to Purdue.

      • Chace

        Yeah just worried because there the best team in the league league and they’ll come out ready

        • Coltrane

          Michigan is playing better ball now than they were when they played Wisconsin in their gym. It took an assist from the refs for the Badgers to get that win. Maybe wrongly I like the Wolverines chances.

  • Champswest

    I thought our key in the last two wins was winning the turnover battle and better guard play than the other team. MAAR has stepped up his game and Walton is playing like B1G MVP.
    Wagner is rebounding better the past few games and working harder on defense. I thought that Wilson as been in a bit of a funk the past two weeks, but he was much better today.
    Great win.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Great recap, great win, Walton is playing out of this world…Wagner/Wilson had big games…hope we continue playing up to this level…Wisco/Purdue @ home / NWestern/Minn on the road will determine our faith for NCAA tourny…Xavier impressed me today…dish to Donnal & his layup…great to see Walton getting a rest and having Xavier contribute…I think Beilein slowly having more faith in him…Rahkman/Robinson also did great today…Irvin is on a big slump / has no confidence…glad Walton has taken over possession and taking more attempts…Irvin has had a disappointing Senior year in my opinion…along with Donnal…anything they give us is a bonus…but definitely need Irvin to get us 10pts a game at least in these next crucial games…go Blue! Walton for BigTen MVP

    • Fab 5 Legends

      Irvin did make some nice assists for east buckets! Hope he still contributes in some way even if his shot is off…he’s a senior, he’s got to go out with a bang

  • robpollard

    – Walton is the man. He’s literally playing like an All-American candidate. It’s amazing. Tons of credit to him.
    – Thank goodness X is getting some time. He’s proving he belongs out there, and while I’m thrilled UM is winning and has a good shot to get to the tourney (though still a long ways to go), I’m also thrilled UM will have a quality player at PG next year.
    – Love watching Wilson when he has confidence and purpose. It’s NBA-draftable quality stuff. Needs to do it more often, but that should come.
    – Credit to Donnal — he didn’t do much, but he contributed, which counts for sure when UM beats IU in Indiana.
    – Irvin — sheesh. Time to refocus and don’t shoot *any* threes unless they are right on the line, in the flow of the offense, and wide freaking open.
    – Duncan had 8 points in 13 minutes, and hustled on D. Great job.

    Onto to face Wisconsin. Win that, and this season is (amazingly) looking pretty good.

  • Chris De Sana

    Good road win and much needed in building a resume; and of course landing recruits from Indiana. If the Hoosiers continue to struggle landing in state recruits could become more of a challenge.

    Walton: I have been as critical as anyone earlier in the year but have to admit he is on some sort of roll. What changed? Would love to know because he is playing most every trip like its his last and it seems to be spreading.

    DJ: Although not as high on him as many here he clearly shows he has more layers to his game than standing outside the arc waiting for a dribble penetration kick out. I would love to see him occasionally post up when guarded by a much smaller player. Help defense continues to be good but on the ball not so much.

    Moe: Nice double double but he needs to finish those bunnies around the rim. He usually does but for some reason this game he did not. I still think he needs to be careful with his dramatics as it could come off as showing up the refs leading to more fouls. The biggest issue for me is that for some reason we continue to struggle getting him the ball on the roll, he is wide open far too often with an easy pathway to the rim.

    MAAR: He has really turned his season around. Playing downhill on offense – hitting the open 3 ball when its there and really picking it up on defense.

    X: Just seems to look better each game and seems to really getting used to the pace and flow. His target should be at least 5 minutes in each half if not 7 or 8.

    Duncan: I really think he needs to play at least 20 minutes with Zak struggling especially in light of the fact his defense has gotten better.

    Donnal: Here is the great mystery for me as he just does not seem to play with any passion or urgency and it drives me nutsssss. So his minutes really need to be evaluated; are they better off going to Teske where it will hep his development?

    Zak: I would still start him but split the minutes so that Duncan got at least half if not more especially in situations late in game and or half.

    Teske: Just needs more minutes.