There was never a doubt for Michigan when Kameron Chatman got the ball

INDIANAPOLIS – Michigan junior point man Derrick Walton Jr. thought he was passing to Aubrey Dawkins – not Kam Chatman – for the opportunity to knock down the game-winner and a chance to defeat top-seeded Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Head coach John Beilein and freshman D.J. Wilson had seen it before. 

Just not when it mattered.

“In practice (Chatman) always hits big buzzer shots and stuff like that, so it was just destined to happen," said Wilson. "It’s fitting for a guy like him. When Kam threw it up, we knew it was money because that’s what he does.”

“I do see him in practice make it more and more often, and it's just a big thing for him in his career right now,” Beilein said.

It was just the eighth three-pointer Chatman had made all year.

"Kam has struggled from the three-point line his whole career," said Beilein. “That could change his whole life right there.”

The sophomore guard wasn’t expecting to receive the extra pass from Derrick Walton Jr. with less than three seconds left on the clock.

“I knew that we were what coach calls ‘double-eyeballing,’ and I knew I was going to be in the corner,” Chatman said. “And so I told myself that I was going to be ready to shoot it. But I didn't think Derrick was going to pass it to me, and he ended up passing it to me. And I hesitated a little bit, but then seeing how much time was on the clock, and then I just let it go. It felt good when it left my hands, so it was pretty good.”

Walton, who finished with 12 assists but went 0-of-3 from the field and made a pair of free throws to finish the day with just two points, thought he was actually passing to shooting guard Aubrey Dawkins, who was on the bench, when he made the split-second decision to find the man in the corner as seconds dwindled.

“They got really similar haircuts, man,” Walton said. “I thought it was Aubrey. Once I passed it to him, I was kind of pleading for it back. No offense to Kam. Those type of moments you dream of. For me to pass it up, I kind of regret it, but it wasn’t too big for him either. I’m so happy for him.

“The crazy thing about it is before I passed it, my mind was made up that I was shooting it. But things happen, man. He was wide open. Going forward, if I get that opportunity, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m shooting it.

“Coach B is going to be absolutely furious I didn’t shoot that, but lucky Kam bailed me out. The shot was in the air… and I was just praying that it went in.”

Chatman had played only seven minutes prior to entering the second half at the 1:01 mark.

“After Muhammad fouled out, I knew (Kam) is one of our better flow players on offense,” Beilein said. “We can run things through him. So we decided just to leave him in there, move Zak to a two-guard, and let him play. If we would have called a timeout, I probably would have done something and said, ‘Kam, you go to the other corner if we're going to run that play. 

“But when I saw the spread of the floor and Derrick with the ball, I said we can't get this by calling a timeout. So let him just go, and he made a play. He made a great play, drew and kick.”

DONNAL PERFECT IN WIN 

Junior forward Mark Donnal finished a flawless 6-of-6 from the field for 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. He also recorded two blocks and one steal.  

Coming out of a timeout with 6:08 remaining, Donnal hit perhaps his biggest jumper of the game to squash a 4-0 Indiana run that had tied it at 59. He followed that up with a rebound at the other end of the court.

“We believe in ourselves when not many others did,” Donnal said. “We came out and executed pretty well offensively and defensively. And then Kam hit an amazing shot, and I couldn’t be happier for anyone more than Kam.”

MAKING HOOSIERS PAY

Indiana entered today’s contest as the league’s leading team in turnovers per game, averaging about 19 in Big Ten play.

Today, Michigan scored 22 points on 15 Hoosiers turnovers, and eight Hoosiers had at least one giveaway.

Michigan scored 16 of those points in the first half off nine Indiana turnovers.

BIG DANCE BOUND?

Heard in the Michigan huddle during the under-eight media timeout with the Wolverines leading Indiana 57-55 were words of motivation that echoed as a subliminal reminder of season implications.

“They don't want this! We want this!”

Indiana ranked 10th in the country and gliding into today’s game on a five-game winning streak, was one of the hottest teams in the country.

Michigan unranked and needing an overtime thriller to beat Northwestern yesterday, was fighting for its life as a NCAA Tournament bubble team.

General consensus among college basketball pundits was Michigan needed a win in the second round over the regular season Big Ten champions to have a valid reason to watch Selection Sunday.

Michigan played like it knew what was on the line, but all locker room talk after the win was centered on claiming the trophy in Indianapolis.

“I think we’re capable, but we’re not really too focused on that,” said Duncan Robinson when asked if Michigan is a Tournament team. “We’re leaving that up to the committee and trusting its judgment. We’re trying to focus on celebrating this one right now and then moving on to tomorrow.”

“To be honest, that hasn’t crossed my mind,” Walton said. “The committee is really good at what they do. If they decide it puts us over the hump, so be it. We’re focusing on the game tomorrow and doing what we do.”

“Yeah I believe we are a (Tournament team), but that’s not our focus right now,” Dawkins said. “It’s time to win two more games and get that Big Ten Championship. We always have confidence in ourselves. That’s what it comes down to.

“We just wanted to win, especially because we know we took a bad loss to them at home. Winning was the only option. Whatever comes with that, so be it.”


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