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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

IU defeats No. 1 in Assembly Hall

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As players milled about and the ball rattled from Hoosier to Hoosier in the final seconds of Saturday’s game, junior guard Victor Oladipo positioned himself to the left of the basket. When the ball meandered into his hands, he uncorked a windmill dunk as time expired.

Gratuitous, perhaps — Oladipo admitted as much and apologized following the game — but it was an exclamation point on IU’s second home win against the nation’s No. 1 team in less than 14 months, one that will almost certainly return the Hoosiers to the top ranking themselves.

In a game of runs, No. 3 IU emerged with a 81-73 home upset of top-ranked Michigan to give the Hoosiers sole possession of first place in the Big Ten along with the national accolades likely to come their way today.

“I think every game in the Big Ten has kind of prepared us for this just because every team is good,” sophomore forward Cody Zeller said. “They’re going to make runs. It’s going to be a good game right down to the end. We just had to take care of their runs and make a run of our own. I thought we did a pretty nice job of that tonight.”

Zeller, with 19 points on a slew of highlight-reel dunks, led a balanced IU offense that saw all five starters reach double figures.

Michigan, however, was reduced to a two-man show for much of the game, playing almost solely through guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. The pair combined for 43 points on 40 total field goal attempts in 72 combined minutes played.

Meanwhile, the other three Michigan starters struggled.

Normal starting center Jordan Morgan played only two minutes due to injury, sharpshooting freshman Nik Stauskas had a rare off-night with 1-for-5 3-point shooting and freshman forward Glenn Robinson III was a non-factor, thanks to IU senior forward Christian Watford’s defense.

“I just wanted to take away his tendencies,” Watford said. “I knew that he likes to get a lot of offensive rebounds, like the back cut and stuff like that. I just tried to limit his touches in that area and keep him off that glass and I feel like I did a good job at that.”
As it had against North Carolina and Minnesota, IU started hot at home against the vaunted opponent.

The first eight attempts for the Hoosiers, across all shooting categories, were perfect. Zeller started the game with a pair of free throws before six straight IU field goal attempts, four of them from 3-point range, sank through the net.

Freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was responsible for two of the long shots as he continued to show an improved outside jumper. He finished with 14 points and defended Burke for much of the game.

With a 28-13 lead less than halfway through the first period of play, IU seemed almost too in-control before Michigan reeled off a 10-0 run to close the deficit to within two possessions. The Wolverines would enter the second half down just four points.

The second half opened with Michigan cutting the lead to two, then one, then a tie on consecutive possessions.

The score deadlocked for the first time since tipoff, IU reeled off another run to take a lead, scoring 11 straight points on a combination of contested jumpers and moves in traffic. Oladipo’s successful and-one on an under-the-basket move and a 3-pointer by senior guard Jordan Hulls gave IU the lead once again.

Much like in the first half, though, Michigan responded with a methodical run of its own to slice away at the lead, their workman-like effort cutting the lead back within two points.

IU was highlighted in the stretch by a failed alley-oop attempt from Hulls to Oladipo. IU Coach Tom Crean said afterward that even he wanted to see that near-showstopper go in, while a smiling Oladipo vowed to build his leg strength with squat lifts.

Zeller had a pair of put-back dunks to boost the lead back to six. The teams traded baskets for a few minutes, before an increasingly desperate Wolverine squad forced several shots as the Hoosiers’ lead built up and time ran down.

Even before Oladipo’s late dunk, Zeller dived for a long rebound out near half-court, his 10th of the game, that for all intents and purposes largely sewed up the win, especially when Ferrell hit two free throws moments later to make the lead nine points.

“I was just trying to keep it alive and make a play down the stretch,” Zeller said. “I always pride myself on the hustle plays, all the little things that anyone can do.”

Zeller and Watford each had 10 rebounds and Crean noted the difference in IU’s defense Saturday as opposed to past matchups with Michigan as a key to Saturday’s win and a key to the team’s next meeting, March 10, in Ann Arbor, Mich., to close out the regular season.

“We really wanted to prove to ourselves that we were a much better defensive team against a team that is that good, and they truly are that good,” Crean said. “They are going to continue to have a great season and let’s hope when we meet at the end of the year that we are all playing for something really big.”

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