During Tom Crean’s first three years at Indiana, when certain players weren’t scoring, the Hoosiers had no chance to win.
Boy, how things have changed.
Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo combined to score 32 points in the Hoosiers’ upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday. The two scored just eight combined points against No. 16 Michigan on Thursday night, making only 3-of-14 shots from the field.
But as Hulls and Oladipo struggled to find their offensive games, big men Christian Watford and Cody Zeller picked up the load and carried No. 12 Indiana to a 73-71 win.
Watford (25 points, seven rebounds) and Zeller (18 points, four rebounds) combined to score 43 points on 16-of-21 shooting. Whenever the Hoosiers needed a big basket, they went to one of them.
“It’s definitely important every game to get it inside, whether it’s to me or Christian,” Zeller said. “It opens so much up for the 3-point shooters and gets our offense flowing a little bit.”
Watford was on fire all night. He hit 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, he took Michigan’s bigs in the post, and he hit jump shots off the dribble. After a while, it became clear the Wolverines had no answer for him.
“Watford had a series of baskets right there that you can’t stop some of that stuff,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “We put little guys on him, we put big guys on him. He shot right over Blake McLimans, who is a big, long dude. He just shot over him like it was Trey Burke guarding him.
“So he’s a really talented player. You can see that he’s really becoming a premier talent in this league.”
Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 73-71 win over No. 16 Michigan on Thursday night at Assembly Hall. Watch and listen to his comments in high-definition video in the embedded player below:
Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Verdell Jones met with the media following Indiana’s 73-71 win over Michigan on Thursday night at Assembly Hall. Watch and listen to each player’s postgame comments in the embedded media players below:
Thoughts on a 73-71 win over the Wolverines:
Christian Watford wagged his head from side to side, his eyes peering to the left before he put his arms around a smiling Verdell Jones.
His body language said it all: “We escaped.”
Just when things started to get comfortable for the Hoosiers — they pushed the lead to 10 with 7:20 to go in the second half — Michigan kept finding ways to hang around. The Wolverines were recipients of some fortuitous buckets off loose balls; it seemed the ball would bounce around and land in Michigan’s possession and it would have an open look. Credit also goes to Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines mixed in a little 1-3-1 at times in the last few minutes and even when flashing man-to-man, Indiana struggled to get anything going. Cody Zeller, who dominated for a long portion of this one, stopped getting the ball. Victor Oladipo had four fouls and was falling in love with the three. Verdell Jones was turning the ball over. Jordan Hulls was silent.
The Hoosiers, since that aforementioned 10-point lead at the 7:20 mark, only managed eight points the rest of the way. But it was enough. Barely. If it wasn’t for Jones’ step-in deuce over Tim Hardaway Jr. — who had his moments, but needed 19 shots to score 19 points and probably could have shared the ball a bit more at times tonight — with 25 seconds to go to put Indiana up four, this one may have ended differently. Because Michigan would not go away. Stu Douglass nailed a three to cut it to one, Watford missed the back end of a one-and-one, and Zack Novak had a prayer half-courter to win the game as the clock expired.
It banged off the backboard.
The Hoosiers remained undefeated in Assembly Hall and have now beaten three Top 25 teams in the building. Assembly Hall and #iubb trend on Twitter. Everything continues coming up Hoosiers.
Check out 27 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 73-71 win over No. 16 Michigan at Assembly Hall in the embedded photo gallery after the jump.
Led by 26 points and nine rebounds from Indiana commitment Trey Lyles, Arsenal Tech notched a 85-59 road win over Decatur Central on Wednesday night. The win moved the Titans, who will travel to Ben Davis on Saturday, to 5-3 on the season.
Inside the Hall was in attendance and caught up with Tech coach Jason Delaney and Lyles afterward. You can view the high-definition interviews in the embedded media players below:
Note: We’ll have highlights from the game early next week.