Upon Further Review: Michigan

Indiana used an 18-2 first-half run to open a commanding lead, but eventually squandered a 20-point cushion before losing to Michigan in overtime. HoosierNation.com breaks down the game, including what we found most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Verdell Jones. There was a time a couple of weeks ago when there were questions if Jones was going to continue to be a big part of IU's rotation. He'd been supplanted in the starting line-up by Daniel Moore following his head injury, and he was struggling with his shot and his ball-handling upon his return. But on Wednesday Jones did a little bit of everything to give his team a chance against the Wolverines. Jones finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks while playing 40 minutes. He scored most of his points with a nice mid-range jump shot, and he clearly has excellent vision – especially in transition. IU Coach Tom Crean has consistently talked about how a practice day missed for a freshman is like a week for a veteran, and his theory appears to have some truth to it. Jones is once again playing like someone who will be a major contributor the rest of the way.

Biggest Surprise… Indiana let another huge lead slip away at home. Few expected this IU team to be able to put together too many 20-point leads this season, but for a second straight game they let a 20-point cushion vanish at home before losing. A week and a half ago it was a 21-point lead over Lipscomb, and on Wednesday it was a 20-point second half lead against Michigan.

The reasons behind the turnarounds are plentiful – IU doesn't have a so-called ‘go-to' guy that can get an important basket, and it is still learning the importance of playing with the some level of intensity for a full 40 minutes and not just 20. It's all a part of the learning process for Tom Crean's young team, but it's still surprising to see any team lose back-to-back 20-point leads at home. It's one thing for that to happen on the road, where a raucous crowd can rattle a young team and inspire the home squad. But to see it happen at home is difficult to fathom.

What I Found Most Impressive… For a second straight game, Indiana has shown it is capable of being competitive against quality Big Ten foes. After the anemic 42-point effort against Northeastern and the loss to Lipscomb many were wondering if an 0-18 Big Ten run was in IU's future. But Crean's team has shown it should be able to compete with most of the teams on its Big Ten slate. Sure they're 0-2, but they took Iowa down to the final minute on the road over the weekend and then had Michigan beaten before letting it slip away late. The end result has been two painful losses, but there were plenty of IU fans who expected to be turning off their television sets at halftime this season. That hasn't happened in the first two Big Ten games of the season, and IU has done enough things well (rebounding, cutting down on turnovers, balanced scoring) to suggest they'll be in games more often than not the rest of the way.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana got only four points off its bench. While the Hoosiers nearly had all five of their starters in double figures Wednesday, IU's three reserves combined for only four points in 35 minutes. Each of IU's five starters played at least 34 minutes, while the three reserves played no more than 13. That's an issue, especially for a young team. There were occasions in each half where the Hoosiers' young starters looked gassed, which is to be expected for young players. But Crean didn't have anyone on his bench to turn to for some additional point production, so each of the five starters exceeded their season-high for minutes by at least four.

After the game Crean talked about needing to find some bench production, but at this point it's unclear where it can come from. The most likely source would probably be Malik Story, but he was limited to just two points in 11 minutes due to four quick fouls. Story scored in double figures three times in a four game stretch in late November – early December, but he's been limited to a combined 23 points in his last six outing. If he can get back to being a reliable scorer as the team's sixth man, it would be huge.

Turning Point: Michigan used an 11-0 run early in the second half to turn a 48-30 game into a 48-41 contest, forcing IU to call a 30-second timeout to try to stop the bleeding. Manny Harris, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak all connected on 3-pointers during the run, while IU went 0-of-4 from the floor and committed a pair of turnovers. That run gave Michigan the confidence it needed that it could overcome the huge deficit, and it ultimately pulled it out in overtime.

Quotable: "I think Indiana has the youngest team in the country, and they remind me a lot of our Michigan team last year where people are learning on the fly. It's probably the hardest way to learn, but you're thrown out there and it's just great experience for them." – Michigan Coach John Beilein

"It's exciting basketball watching these two programs hopefully grow back to where they both once were." – Beilein

"God I want to win for (our fans). Our fans are so into it. We'll get back to where it's sold out again. We'll get it back to where it's a sold out house where it's a monster ticket where the ticket brokers are making a heck of a living because it's Indiana basketball. Ticket brokers right now probably aren't making a heck of a living." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"Every one is tough to take – no one likes losing. It's something that we go back, we learn from it, move forward and we bounce back tomorrow and get after it again." – Matt Roth

"We can play with anybody. This team has beaten Duke and UCLA. I think I can speak for the rest of the team that we want to play them again." – Verdell Jones

"It's tough, but we're going to fight tomorrow and get better tomorrow. We played a great game, and now we have to play for 40 minutes." – Nick Williams

"I feel I (got fouled) but I should have brought it out so there wouldn't be any contest about that." – Devan Dumes

"We're one step closer. We have to find that 40 minute game where we play great defense for the whole time to get us over the hump." - Dumes

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