Hoosiers drop fourth straight road game

Indiana's up-and-down Big Ten season continued on Saturday with their fourth consecutive conference road loss. Playing on just one day's rest after falling at Purdue on Thursday, the Hoosiers were outplayed by struggling Michigan and fell 58-55 in Ann Arbor. The Wolverine victory snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Hoosiers, their first win against IU since January of 2001.

Indiana's up-and-down Big Ten season continued on Saturday with their fourth consecutive conference road loss. Playing on just one day's rest after falling at Purdue on Thursday, the Hoosiers were outplayed by struggling Michigan and fell 58-55 in Ann Arbor. The Wolverine victory snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Hoosiers and kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Meanwhile, IU was pushed one step closer to the bubble.

"It was a tough loss," said Indiana Coach Kelvin Sampson. "You hold a team to 58 points and your defense is usually pretty good, good enough. We just didn't make enough shots today."

The Hoosiers were playing without starting point guard Earl Calloway, who sat out the game with an injured shoulder. His absence and the Hoosiers' fatigue contributed to a terribly slow start for Indiana. Just minutes into the game IU found themselves trailing 11-2 and put squarely on their heels.

"We had so many wide open looks in the first half, but we were kind of playing from behind," said Sampson.

Despite shooting under 35 percent in the opening half and scoring a season-low 18 points, the Hoosiers were still within striking distance at the intermission thanks to their defense. With their offense struggling throughout the game, the IU defense once again kept their hopes alive.

"Our defense today was good, really good I thought," said Sampson.

The second half was much like the first as baskets by either team were at a premium. The Hoosiers would shoot just 36 percent from the field during the game, but still found themselves in position to steal a win at the end. That seemed highly unlikely when junior D.J. White went to the bench with four fouls at the 13:37 mark, but Indiana went small and came up big thanks to the play of Errek Suhr and Mike White.

White scored all of his career-high 11 points in the second half and Suhr added seven of his season-high 10 points and four key assists in the final frame. When White connected on two free throws with 5:01 left in the game it gave the Hoosiers their first lead of the contest at 47-46. While D.J. White sat on the bench for ten minutes in the second half, IU outscored the Wolverines 19-16.

"I thought the last 12 or 14 minutes we really competed," said Sampson. "I thought Errek Suhr played tough. I'm not going to take anything away from Errek. He played with a big heart today. Earl obviously gives us a chance to get some easy baskets, but I was proud of Errek Suhr today.

"Mike (White) was tough."

D.J. White finally re-entered the game with 3:30 left to play and the game tied at 53, but was a non-factor in the closing minutes. Instead it was Michigan's Courtney Sims and Jerret Smith that made the big plays. Smith's slicing lay-up right down the middle of the IU defense gave the Wolverines a 54-51 lead with less than 90 seconds to play. Sims then added two free throws to the lead on the next trip down the court.

Trailing by five points with precious little time remaining it seemed the Hoosiers were done, but two costly Michigan miscues gave them another chance. First Michigan needlessly fouled before the ball was inbounded and Rod Wilmont made them pay with two free throws that cut the lead to 53-56 with 52.7 left. Immediately after that, Smith threw the ball right to A.J. Ratliff, which led to a Suhr pass inside to Mike White for an easy basket that cut the lead to one with 20 seconds remaining.

Indiana was then forced to foul. Smith made two key free throws to extend the lead to 58-55 and the Hoosiers took a timeout with 16 seconds left to set up a play that could tie the game. Out of the break Armon Bassett took the ball off a screen to the right side and hoisted up a fadeaway three-pointer over Michigan's Brent Petway. The ball clanged off the rim and into the hands of Lance Stemler. Stemler, who has been in an unshakable shooting slump this year, quickly ran the ball back out beyond the arc and turned to shoot. Michigan big man Ekpe Udoh was there to meet him and forced Stemler into a pass mid-air as time expired.

"Our kids competed," said Sampson. "We gave ourselves a chance to win, we just couldn't finish it."

Closing games out has been a bugaboo for the Hoosiers on the road all season and it cost them another game Saturday. Indiana's six-year stretch of mastery over the Wolverines is now over and the Hoosiers find themselves with their first two-game losing streak of the Sampson era. They return to action Wednesday in Assembly Hall against Minnesota. Injury update

Sampson announced Saturday that senior point guard Earl Calloway is out with a dislocated shoulder. There's no timetable for Calloway's return to action, but Sampson noted that players usually don't come back too quick with such an injury.

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