Winning ugly is one of the most beautiful things in sports, as long as your team gets the victory.
On Saturday, the Hoosiers (18-7, 9-5 B1G) came back from 11 down to nip Michigan (14-11, 8-6 B1G), 62-61, at Crisler Center, in Ann Arbor. Trayce Jackson-Davis once again paced Indiana with 28 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Jalen Hood-Schifino also excelled for IU with 21 points, four rebounds, and five assists.
Indiana’s ninth Big Ten win equaled its total from the 2021-22 regular season. IU now has five Quad-I wins. On the other side, Michigan’s NCAA Tournament chances took a large hit with the loss.
Prior to the game, Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers learned that Race Thompson would miss Saturday’s game. Per IU, Thompson was held out for precautionary reasons. Jordan Geronimo would start in his place against the Wolverines.
Unlike IU’s starts against Purdue and Rutgers, this one began inauspiciously. The Hoosiers scored the first four, but Michigan’s offense engaged instantly thereafter. The Wolverines went on a 13-2 run to take a 13-6 lead, punctuated by a three-pointer from star big man Hunter Dickinson.
Dickinson also recorded two blocks on Jackson-Davis in the early going before exiting the game with his second foul at the 12:08 mark. Hood-Schifino also committed two early fouls for IU, so both teams needed to ask something out of their depth.
IU’s complementary players struggled to contribute all game. Meanwhile, Dug McDaniel and Tarris Reed added to the home team’s lead with buckets in the middle of the first half.
Woodson’s hand was forced; he had to put Hood-Schifino back in to the contest. The young point guard made the decision worth it. After two Kobe Bufkin buckets gave Michigan an 11-point lead, Hood-Schifino went on a personal 8-0 scoring run of his own to change the game at the end of the first half.
There was no flashiness to Hood-Schifino’s game on Saturday. He’s capable of wowing audiences with spectacular passes and acrobatic layups, but against Michigan, he scored on a consistent diet of jump shots and drives to the rim. His final basket of the first half trimmed IU’s deficit to five.
Then, Jackson-Davis showed his All-American prowess. He already had 12 points, but back-to-back scores just before halftime brought the Hoosiers to within four points. He even had a chance for another basket or two before the intermission, but the rim treated him unfairly.
After halftime, IU grabbed its first lead in over 20 minutes on a TJD basket and the foul with 16:34 to go. As is the case in Big Ten matchups, Michigan responded with a run of their own to go up by seven.
At that point, it felt like Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino chose to put the team on their back. The Hoosiers were going to win or lose based on how those two players performed.
TJD his a layup to cut the deficit to five. Hood-Schifino made two free throws to bring IU to within three. Reed and Dickinson made back-to-back shots to push the lead to seven. Then, the Hoosier defense locked down their opponents.
IU gave up eight points over the final 11 minutes of the game. Michigan got nothing easy from the paint or from the arc. Simultaneously, TJD and JHS continued their onslaught.
Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino scored 14 of IU’s final 16 points. The only other basket came from Geronimo, thanks to a sharp assist from Jackson-Davis. Michigan had no answer for IU’s two stars.
Michigan held a three-point advantage going into the final media timeout, but the Hoosiers would silence the Wolverines for the entire final stretch. In fact, Juwan Howard’s team did not score a point for the final 5:12. They have one of the top 50 offenses in the country, per KenPom. It didn’t matter.
Jackson-Davis threw down an ATO slam to make it a one-point game, and two JHS free throws gave IU a one-point lead with 2:58 to go. Neither team scored after that point.
After Galloway plucked a Michigan pass with 1:21 to go, Hood-Schifino missed a layup. Then, future NBA prospect Jett Howard missed a jumper with 38 seconds. Michigan elected to play the possession out, but Dickinson fouled Jackson-Davis with 12 seconds remaining.
TJD missed the front end of the one-and-one. Reed rebounded, and Michigan called timeout with eight seconds left. In a game dominated by TJD and JHS, the two Hoosiers that clinched the game on defense were Galloway and Kopp. Howard missed, and Indiana had a magnificent Big Ten road win.
IU stays out on the road, and the games continue to remain difficult. Indiana takes on Northwestern in Evanston on Wednesday night at 9p ET on BTN. Northwestern defeated Indiana 84-83 earlier this season at Assembly Hall, in a game where the Wildcats deserved to win by more. Indiana is currently projected to win on Wednesday, 70-69, per KenPom.
Featured Image: Mike Mulholland