By Chris Ramirez
Bloomington, IN – Cody Zeller scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds as third-ranked Indiana held off top-ranked Michigan, 81-73. Victor Oladipo had 15 points, while Christian Watford put in 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten). Yogi Ferrell had 14 points and Jordan Hulls had 11 in the win. Trey Burke had 25 points and eight assists while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 18 points for the Wolverines (20-2, 7-2). With Indiana’s win and number two Kansas losing to Oklahoma State should move the Hoosiers back to the No. 1 ranking.
The Hoosiers, who made 11 of their first 13 shots, played tenacious defense and were hitting on all cylinders running the floor the first 10 minutes of the opening stanza. As hot as the Hoosiers were to begin the game, they struggle late in the first half as they went into halftime with a 36-32 lead. Indiana ran the floor well and was able to move to a 20-7 lead five minutes into the game.
“We were getting a lot of movement through penetration and everyone was moving around,” Zeller said. “That’s when we’re at our best. To start off the game we always feed off the crowd. We have to give a lot of credit to how good the crowd was tonight. It definitely gets us going. It’s unlike anything else.”
The lead expanded to 26-11 following Zeller’s layup, but the Wolverines finally got hot, and with the help of some miscues by the Hoosiers, Michigan climb back into the game. Jon Horford’s dunk made it 28-23 with 5 1/2 minutes left and Burke finished the half by hitting a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas samade a pair of foul shots early in the second half to tie the game at 40, but the Hoosiers moved in front for good by scoring its ensuing 11 points. Oldaipo hit a three pointerused a nice pump fake to get Glenn Robinson III in the air, and the resulting 3-point play made it 45-40. Hulls capped the spurt by draining a right wing 3-pointer.
“Their runs in the game were really big. They have a large amount of experience. Very talented,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Michigan was within two a couple more times, the last at 57-55 on Hardaway’s jumper with 7:36 remaining. Zeller then jammed twice in a span of less than two minutes.
Burke’s 3-point play had Michigan knocking on the door again at 61-58 with 4:53 to go, but Hulls responded by draining another 3-ball.
Michigan couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.