For three halves of basketball, Indiana confounded and frustrated Big Ten scoring leader Manny Harris during the last two weeks.
But Harris got the best of the Hoosiers in the end.
After a quiet 13-point performance in IU's New Year's win in Bloomington and an 0-for-5 effort in the opening half Thursday night, Harris scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to lead Michigan (9-7/3-2) to a 69-45 win over Indiana (7-9/1-3).
Harris made 7-of-9 shots in the second half, with all of them coming in the game's final 11:05. His offensive outburst helped Michigan turn a relatively close game into a blowout by the time the final horn sounded, as a five-point game with 6:32 to go turned into a rout thanks to a 21-2 Michigan run to close the game.
"The last five minutes of the game, there are so many things that play out in that situation," IU Coach Tom Crean said. "And unfortunately for us, we reverted back to who we are at this point under pressure. And they made the plays they make under pressure. It's not as if it was anybody other than the two guys that have been doing it the whole time for them."
Harris scored nine of his points during the game-ending run, while DeShawn Sims added four. Sims finished with 20 points, as the high-scoring Wolverine duo were the only two Michigan players to finish in double figures.
But those two superlative efforts were more than enough to produce Michigan's most lopsided win over Indiana since a 112-64 win on Feb. 22, 1998, while the 45 points is the fewest Indiana has scored since Northeastern beat Indiana 55-42 Dec. 22, 2008.
Despite the final tally, Indiana had its chances at Crisler Arena. The Hoosiers trailed by only six at half 27-21, and the game was a single-digit contest until the game's final 4 ½ minutes. A couple of Jeremiah Rivers' free throws with 6:32 remaining cut the lead to five, 48-43, before Michigan steamrolled the Hoosiers down the stretch by scoring on 10 straight possessions. The only empty trip down the stretch come in the final minute, when Michigan mercilessly took a team turnover on a 35-second shot clock violation instead of trying to add to the lopsided margin.
"There's no question we had a lot more fight tonight, a lot more intensity," Crean said. "We really, really had moments when we really played very good team basketball. Unfortunately at the end, the last 5-6 minutes got us in the sense that our individual and team defense weren't good enough."
While Indiana's defensive execution let up in the final stretch, offensively Tom Crean's team couldn't make shots all night long. Indiana made only 19-of-52 shots from the floor (36.5 percent), including a 1-of-15 effort from behind the 3-point arc. The one bright spot was Christian Watford, who made 7-of-15 shots to lead Indiana with 16 points and eight rebounds.
"Christian Watford did an outstanding job," Crean said. "I'd really like to keep moving him around. He was outstanding in a lot of situations. He rebounded the ball better, he had five offensive boards, he got to the basket, I thought he should have had more than three free throw attempts. He did some really, really good things – there's no doubt about that."
But other than Watford, the Hoosiers struggled. Verdell Jones missed all but three of his 14 field goal attempts while Jordan Hulls was just 2-of-7. Indiana also committed 19 turnovers, leading to a 21-4 edge in points off turnovers for Michigan.
"I say this all the time and I know it sounds mercenary, but your jump shot isn't going to come with you all the time," Crean said. "Your ability to make free throws isn't going to come all the time. But your defense, your communication, you ability to block out and rebound have to be there."
Watford 7-15 2-3 16, Capobianco 0-0 0-0 0, Hulls 2-7 0-1 5, Rivers 2-6 2-4 6, Jones 3-14 1-2 7, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Muniru 0-0 0-0 0, Pritchard 3-5 0-0 6, Elston 1-2 0-1 2, Dumes 1-3 1-1 3. Totals 19-52 6-12 45.
Sims 8-13 4-5 20, Novak 3-8 0-0 6, Douglass 1-5 1-2 4, Harris 7-14 6-6 21, Lucas-Perry 2-6 2-2 7, Morris 1-3 2-2 4, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Vogrich 2-3 0-0 5, Person 0-0 0-0 0, Gibson 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 24-52 17-19 69.
3-Pointers: Indiana 1-15 (Hulls 1-5, Jones 0-5, Dumes 0-2, Watford 0-3), Michigan 4-18 (Douglass 1-4, Harris 1-3, Lucas-Perry 1-4, Vogrich 1-2, Novak 0-3, Sims 0-1 Morris 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana29 (Jones 10), Michigan 36 (Sims 8). Assists: Indiana 9 (Jones 3), Michigan 13 (Morris 4). Turnovers: Indiana 19, Michigan 16. Blocks: Indiana 2 (Capobianco 2), Michigan 4 (Sims 2, Harris, Gibson). Steals: Indiana , Michigan 11. Officials: Ed Hightower, Rick Hartzell, John Higgins. Attendance: 9,632.
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