Hoosier MVP…Admit it, Mike Davis…had Marco Killingsworth's between-the-legs, step-back 16-foot jumper with 57 seconds remaining not dropped, you would have tackled the 6-8, 265-pounder on the way back up the floor. It might have been the most ill-advised attempt anyone could have concocted with Michigan leading 64-62 and both team's NCAA hopes possibly on the line, but Killingsworth's attempt found nothing but the bottom of the net, starting a 7-0, last-minute Indiana run that gave IU its fourth straight win.
The Killingsworth jumper might have been a head scratcher, but it was just his day. Those were his final points on a 19-point, 13-rebound, three-assist afternoon in Ann Arbor that keyed the Hoosiers' upset of the Wolverines. Most important was Killingsworth's 13 rebounds, which included seven on the offensive end. Indiana had been out-rebounded by Michigan 42-29 in Bloomington in the conference opener, but battled to a 31-31 stalemate in Ann Arbor. Killingsworth did commit a game-high six turnovers in 33 minutes of play, but four of those came during the opening seven minutes of the game when no one on the IU roster could keep a handle on the ball.
Pivotal Stretch…Michigan appeared ready to blow the game open early in the second half after opening a 39-29 lead with 16:11 remaining, but Indiana responded with a 16-3 run over the next five minutes that gave the Hoosiers their first lead, 45-42. Earl Calloway, who was limited to 15 minutes due to foul trouble, got the rally started with a driving layup followed by a quick steal. A couple of Robert Vaden free throws (who was shooting for Killingsworth after officials had him leave the game momentarily because he was bleeding) and a Killingsworth back-door dunk cut the margin to four. Rod Wilmont added a free throw and a 5-foot baseline jumper, and then Killingsworth converted an up-and-under reverse layup to cut the lead to one. Indiana took its first lead, 43-42, moments later with a Robert Vaden 3-pointer, and then Wilmont capped the run with a fast-break dunk on a feed from Vaden that gave IU the 45-42 lead with 11:41 remaining.
While Indiana was going 6-of-9 during that five-minute stretch and committing only one turnover, Michigan was just 1-for-4 from the floor and 1-for-5 from the free-throw line during that same stretch while turning the ball over five times.
What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana needed to excavate itself from huge holes in each half. Michigan scored the game's first 10 points, and Indiana didn't get its first basket of the game until Killingsworth had a putback layup six minutes into the contest. In the second half, a three-point deficit quickly ballooned to 10 thanks to a 9-2 Wolverine run in the opening four minutes of the period. All told, Indiana was outscored 19-2 in the first four minutes of each half, going a combined 1-for-7 shooting with eight turnovers.
Credit goes to Mike Davis' team for battling back from double-digit deficits twice, but it is tempting fate with this formula as it gears up for the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana figures to run into teams next week in Indianapolis that won't be quite as gratuitous as Michigan was, which added 24 turnovers to Indiana's comeback efforts. This also is nothing new for this team, as slow starts to the first half at Minnesota and to the second half at Iowa contributed significantly to double-digit losses last month.
What I Found Most Surprising… So many different players played significant roles in the Hoosiers' win. Certainly Killingsworth's seventh double-double of the season was the biggest performance, but you can go right down the roster and remember a big shot or big defensive play. Both Robert Vaden and Marshall Strickland hit huge 3-pointers late in the second half, and Rod Wilmont was instrumental during IU's 16-3 second half flurry as well as with his four late free throws. Off the bench, Errek Suhr gave the team a big first-half 3-pointer and a huge emotional lift when the team was floundering early. Earl Calloway picked up three fouls in the game's first 5 ½ minutes, but he had a big basket and steal in the second half that started IU's rally.
Indiana is at its best when it isn't relying on Killingsworth on the interior and Vaden in the perimeter for all of its point production. If the Hoosiers can get this same sort of across-the-board contributions in Indianapolis beginning Friday against Wisconsin, they have a chance to still be playing next weekend and to be a legitimate threat to win the league's postseason championship come Sunday.
What I Found Most Impressive…This was a marquee road win, the sort of victory that you highlight on your NCAA resume. This win against a quality opponent will go a long way toward not only assuring IU is on the NCAA board next weekend, but possibly giving IU a quality seed as well. For a team that seemingly couldn't win outside the Bloomington city limits, Indiana suddenly had back-to-back road victories to close the regular season and the stigma of being unable to win on the road has been all but erased with last week's efforts.
In fact, don't be surprised if IU's performance away from home helps the Hoosiers with its NCAA seeding instead of hurting it. IU heads to Indianapolis with a more-than-respectable 7-7 record away from Assembly Hall this year. By way of comparison, that's a better mark than Iowa (5-8), Wisconsin (5-8) and Michigan (5-6), and it's on par with Michigan State (8-8). Only Ohio State (7-3) and Illinois (9-4) have winning records away from their home courts.
"There are a lot of people on the (NCAA Tournament Selection) committee that understand we're playing good basketball. I feel really good about our chances right now being 9-7 in the league. I'm not going to say we're in. I'm not going to say we're out. We just got to keep playing basketball. That's the most important thing for us right now, not to focus on whether we're in or out, but just to focus on winning basketball games." – IU Coach Mike Davis.
"If you go 8-8 in the best conference in the country, you should be in. I'm really pulling for these guys because I think we deserve seven teams." – IU Coach Mike Davis.
"It is tough to win with some many turnovers. Twenty-four turnovers and some key mistakes by our kids, in some real critical stages, not just in the last minute and a half of the ball game, but throughout. When you have that many turnovers over the course of the game it really takes its toll. They turn it over 20 times, we turn it over 24. It wasn't a pretty game from that stand point. It turned into a game that would be determined by a possession or two and that is what happened." – Michigan Coach Tommy Amaker.
"We played hard and put everything out there. We turned the ball over at significant spots. I think Indiana is on a roll right now and we couldn't stop them today. We played as hard as we could. It's just a tough loss."– Michigan forward Graham Brown.
"The game was played at a high level. In order to be successful in this game you had to step your game up to a high level. I think we didn't do that as a team. We gave great effort and played hard but as a team we didn't play at a high level today. We played better than we have but we still haven't played at the level that's going to help us achieve things like winning the Big Ten Tournament or making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament." – Michigan guard Daniel Horton.
Upon Further Review…Michigan
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