BLOOMINGTON-One half a serving of Robert Vaden proved to be just enough for Indiana in its Big Ten opener.
After going scoreless and attempting only one first-half shot, Vaden scored 17 second-half points to lead Indiana to a 70-63 win over Michigan in both teams' Big Ten openers.
"Coach told me I needed to have more than one shot in a half," said Vaden.
Vaden did just that, going 7-of-9 in the second half to lead the Hoosiers (9-2/1-0) to their ninth straight win over Michigan (10-2/0-1). Vaden's outing overshadowed a huge individual effort for Michigan's Graham Brown, who totaled 21 rebounds for the Wolverines.
Vaden scored 11 points in the first 5 _ minutes of the second half to help Indiana open a four-point lead, but it was his play in the closing minutes that proved to be the determining factor. He came up with just about every big shot, rebound and assist in the closing minutes to help Indiana pull away in the game's final five minutes.
"If we don't have Vaden in the second half, we lose this game," said IU Coach Mike Davis.
With the game tied 55-55, Vaden went to work. He hit back-to-back baseline jumpers to put Indiana up four. After a Dion Harris jumper cut the margin to two, Vaden drove the baseline for a reverse layup to push the lead back to four, 61-57, with 2:25 remaining. After Michigan's Chris Hunter missed on the other end, Vaden fed Marco Killingsworth for a fastbreak layup to extend the lead to six, 63-57, with 1:51 on the clock.
"Vaden is always stepping up," said Killingsworth, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds but was just 5-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-11 from the free-throw line. "He really threw the team on his back."
Michigan – which was led by 20 points from Daniel Horton and 19 from Harris - would get no closer than four the rest of the way. Indiana made five of its six free throws in the game's final minute, including four from Marshall Strickland.
While Vaden said he didn't necessarily go out of his way to be more of a factor offensively in the second half, he said he did have some openings in the second half that weren't there in the game's opening half.
"I just try to let it come to me," said Vaden, who added a team-high six rebounds and four assists. "I don't try to force anything. In the first half I didn't really get any open looks. I had one shot in the first half, but in the second half I got some open looks, I took them, and I made them."
Vaden's ability to ratchet up his productivity at a moment's notice if a source of both frustration and relief to Davis, who has seen the 6'5" sophomore average 19.7 points in his last three games. Despite that production, he'd still like to see him assert himself at all times, not just when the team is on its heels.
"I've said Vaden is our best player for a while," said Davis. "He has the highest basketball IQ on our team. His problem is he isn't aggressive. He won't take control of the game. That's in a good way sometimes, because he shares the ball.
"I wouldn't be surprised by the time when it's all said he was our leading scorer, rebounder and (our leader) in assists."
While Vaden keyed Indiana's win, he had his share of help, most notably from Rod Wilmont. After his own scoreless first half effort, Wilmont scored 12 points after intermission. He had a pair of steals that he converted into fastbreak dunks early to help Indiana overcome a four-point Michigan lead, and later added a pair of 3-pointers midway through the half that gave IU its biggest lead of the game, 54-45.
"We need guys to come in and give a spark, and that's what I did tonight," said Wilmont.
Indiana needed that second-half spark from both Vaden and Wilmont after a sluggish opening half that saw the teams go into the locker rooms tied at 24-24. Michigan, which had to play without an injured Lester Abram, managed to stay in the game early despite missing 22 of its 32 first-half shots and committing 12 turnovers.
But thanks to a 26-12 edge in rebounding – including a 13-3 edge on the offensive glass and 11 rebounds from Brown – the Wolverines stayed close early and eventually caught the Hoosiers with a 7-0 run in the final 2:53 of the half.
In the second half, though, Vaden, Wilmont, and 22 Michigan turnovers did in Amaker's Wolverines, who haven't won in Assembly Hall since 1996.
"We did a horrendous job of taking care of the basketball," said Amaker. "We were sloppy with the ball, there's no other way to put it. You can't have your guards and your team having that many turnovers. We had way too many to pull this game out."
White 4-7 2-2 10, Killingsworth 5-12 5-11 15, Strickland 2-9 5-5 10, Vaden 7-10 1-1 17, Monroe 0-2 2-4 2, Wilmont 5-10 0-0 12, Ratliff 1-2 0-0 3, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Calloway 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 24-53 16-25 70.
Brown 4-6 0-0 8, Sims 2-4 1-2 5, Horton 8-17 2-2 20, Harris 8-16 0-0 19, Coleman 0-3 0-0 0, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Shephered 1-7 1-1 3, Petway 1-3 0-0 3, Hunter 2-8 0-0 4. Totals 27-65 4-5 63.
Halftime Score: Indiana 24, Michigan 24. 3-Pointers: Indiana 6-19 (Killingsworth 0-1, Strickland 1-7, Vaden 2-4, Monroe 0-1, Wilmont 2-4, Ratliff 1-1, Calloway 0-1), Michigan 5-16 (Horton 2-6, Harris 3-6, Smith 0-1, Shepherd 0-2, Hunter 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 29 (Killingsworth, Vaden 6), Michigan 42 (Brown 21). Assists: Indiana 12 (Vaden 4), Michigan 13 (Horton 5). Turnovers: Indiana 14 (Vaden 5), Michigan 22 (Horton 6). Blocks: Indiana 6 (White 3, Killingsworth, Monroe, Vaden), Michigan 5 (Sims 2, Brown, Shepherd, Hunter). Officials: Ed Hightower, Ted Hillary, Steve Welmer. Attendance: 13,169.
Vaden Turns It On Just In Time
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