Jordan Hulls (18 points, five assists) and Cody Zeller (11 points, 12 rebounds) met with the media following Indiana’s 68-56 loss at Michigan on Wednesday night. Watch and listen to the comments from both players in high-definition quality video in the embedded media players below:
Thoughts on a 68-56 loss to the Wolverines:
Things did not start well in Ann Arbor this evening.
Indiana missed shots. It turned the ball over and allowed Michigan to have its way on offense. The Wolverines frustrated Cody Zeller down low. With 7:12 to go before half, the Hoosiers had only mustered eight points and were down 20. The road has not been kind to this team in Big Ten play. And here they were, struggling amidst the cheers of the opposing crowd once again. But Jordan Hulls came to play. He made threes; he made runners in the lane. And things began to settle. By half, the Hoosiers were (only) down 11 after turning the ball over on 29.9% of their possessions and lacking polish and poise for a long stretch before the break.
The second half began and Tom Crean made some changes. Out came Christian Watford from the starting lineup after only playing seven minutes in the first half. In came Derek Elston. In came Remy Abell for the injured Verdell Jones, Victor Oladipo for Will Sheehey. For the second straight game, Elston displayed how he’s capable of performing when he brings energy and focus (nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, two rebounds). He was key in keeping this one close in the second half. And when Crean inserted Watford back into the lineup, he rose to what was surely a challenge from his coach. He guarded Trey Burke well for a stretch, using his size to disrupt him. Hulls kept scoring (18 points, 6-of-12, 4-of-5 from three). Tim Hardaway Jr. was mostly inefficient on the offensive end for Michigan. And this game was well within reach for the Hoosiers.
But as we’ve seen of late on the road, the home team has executed when it matters and the Hoosiers have fallen flat. So after Watford split a pair of free throw to pull the Hoosiers within two (52-50) with 2:58 to go, that was as close as Indiana would get. Burke penetrated and dished to Hardaway, who made his second three (2-of-8) of the night. Michigan’s next possession was more of the same. Hardaway missed a lay-up, but Indiana allowed Jordan Morgan to snag an offensive rebound, similar to how the Hoosier let it slip away against Wisconsin late by giving up crucial rebounds to the opponent. Michigan ran some clock. Burke drove baseline on Abell and kicked to Hardaway Jr. in the left corner. He passed up to Stu Douglass on the left wing. Douglass drained a three. Indiana found itself down 58-50 with 1:47 to go and that was pretty much all she wrote, save for some desperation late fouling.
Another road loss for the Hoosiers. Another reminder that for all the improvements this team has showed from this season to last, winning on the road in the Big Ten remains an elusive proposition.
Pool for Michigan: All players except Cody Zeller are eligible to be picked. Any picks for Zeller will be deleted.
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Indiana assistant coach Steve McClain, sophomore Will Sheehey and junior Christian Watford met with the media on Tuesday to preview tomorrow’s game at Michigan. Watch the press conference in high-definition quality in the embedded media player below:
Watch Michigan coach John Beilein preview tomorrow’s game over at UMHoops.
In lieu of our usual “What to Expect” feature, we’ve switched things up today and have enlisted the expertise of Dylan Burkhardt for analysis of Wednesday’s opponent: Michigan. Burkhardt, who is a good friend of the site, is the founder and editor of UMHoops, a must-read for fans of Wolverine hoops. You can read our conversation with the UMHoops founder below:
The first game between these two teams came down to a few final possessions at the end and could have gone either way. Neither Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr. shot the ball particularly well in that game, which I thought was a huge key for the Hoosiers grinding out the win. How have both guys been playing in the weeks since the first meeting and what does Michigan need out of each guy on Wednesday night?
Trey Burke’s role in the Michigan offense grows every game. He’s playing the point guard position as well as you could ask for from any freshman. He hits big shots, controls the game, finds his teammates and gets after it defensively. He hasn’t been immune to poor shooting games but his 4-for-15 performance at Indiana was one of his worst. Michigan needs Burke to play within the offense and make plays on the screen-and-roll. Depending on how Indiana defends him that could mean distributing the ball to Jordan Morgan down low, kicking to shooters on the wings or getting to the basket by himself and finishing at the cup.
Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to be an enigma this season. He’s shooting 22% on threes in Big Ten play but has the second most 3-point attempts in the Big Ten. This is the same player that almost single-handedly shot Michigan into the NCAA Tournament last season by connecting on 44% of his threes in conference games. He’s still scoring the ball and has improved attacking the basket, but he continues to shoot a lot of threes and not very effectively. It’s all about confidence for Hardaway, if he hits a couple early shots or picks up a few easy baskets then he’s more than capable of getting hot and changing the game with his scoring ability.
In Indiana’s win against Michigan, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford combined for 43 of the team’s 73 points.
A look at four plays involving both players in the latest edition of Film Session:
NO. 1) WATFORD DRIVE AND DISH TO ZELLER:
Jordan Hulls brings the ball up the court and passes it to Watford on the left wing:
Hulls gets a bit of a body into Stu Douglass, which allows Watford some space to attack the paint:
Watford takes it into the lane: