Indiana 73, Michigan 71: Hoosiers survive.

Despite one of the more lackluster defensive performances of the season, IU never trailed and withstood a late Michigan rally to defeat the #13 Michigan Wolverines. The best thing, and really the only thing that matters, is that the Hoosiers won. There seems to be a fair amount of hand-wringing online today about the Hoosiers performance, and it certainly wasn't their best. Michigan had plenty of open looks from three point range and shot well above its season average from deep. IU lost the turnover battle for only the second time this season and allowed its second-highest offensive efficiency and third-worst effective field goal percentage. The offensive performance was much better, as would be expected against an offense-oriented team such as Michigan, although IU allowed Michigan to stay alive by missing free throws in the final minute. This is a game that any of the previous three IU teams, and perhaps several others in the last 15 years, would have lost (see last year's home game against Iowa, for instance).

Here is the box score. As noted, IU played pretty well offensively other than the turnovers. IU shot 55 percent in each half, and was 7-11 from deep. IU didn't rebound particularly well on the offensive end, but that doesn't matter as much when the shots are falling. Individual performances of note:

  • A couple of months ago, we were hoping that Christian Watford would find a way to live up to his potential. Now, I'm hoping that we can hold onto him for another year. 25 points, 8-11 shooting, 3-4 from deep, 7 rebounds.
  • Jordan Hulls was somewhat invisible offensively, shooting 1-4 and 1-1 from deep.
  • Victor Oladipo had a rough night offensively, shooting 2-10, but he had 4 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocked shots.
  • Matt Roth, of course, drained his only three point attempt, but what is more noteworthy is that he made his first two pointer of the season (on only his second attempt). That's Roth's fourth two-point field goal in the last two seasons.
  • Derek Elston played another solid game off the bench, scoring 5 points and grabbing 4 boards, blocking a shot, and had 0 turnovers.
Again, this wasn't a great performance, and IU certainly wouldn't have defeated Kentucky or Ohio State with this sort of effort. Still, the ability to survive a lackluster performance is a positive, because no team plays its best every night. This wasn't a great performance, but it also wasn't a troubling performance. If flirting with disaster against the #13 team in the country is the worst thing that happens to IU this year, I think the team will be fine.

Now, the Hoosiers hit the road to play Penn State on Sunday. I'm going to be busy this weekend, and thought about writing the PSU preview early, but something held me back. Perhaps I had a premonition of last night's game, in which the Nittany Lions curb-stomped the increasingly enigmatic Purdue Boilermakers. In fairness to Purdue, what team hasn't been intimidated by the viper's nest that is the Bryce-Jordan Center? There must have been 2,000 people there, maybe even 2,500. Last night's game certainly changes the way IU fans have been viewing Sunday's game, and hopefully Purdue's troubles will be to the IU team's benefit as a cautionary tale. More on that game later today.
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