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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Early minutes set stage for late IU win

IUBB v. Michigan 3.10.13

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The ending of Tuesday’s 72-71 IU victory that clinched the Hoosiers’ first outright Big Ten since 1993 is what will be remembered in the history books, but none of that would have happened if not for the beginning.

Before the missed Michigan free throws, the Cody Zeller tip-in for the lead and the ball slowly rolling off the rim in the waning second of Sunday's game, the Hoosiers began the game with a 10-3 run that gave them both momentum and an idea of how to attack the Wolverines in the Crisler Center.

Even when Michigan quickly came back, the early cushion allowed IU to weather the storm, stay in contention all game and set the stage for the last-minute heroics.

“We just played,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “It wasn’t perfect. We missed some shots. It was going to be a game of runs and you just have to make sure that you can correct your mistakes. Everything we were doing was correctable.”

Just as he did in IU’s regular season opener at Assembly Hall, senior guard Jordan Hulls started the regular season finale by converting a 3-point shot to give IU a 3-0 lead.

The teams traded misses on both ends of the court, but junior guard Victor Oladipo broke through for jump shot off of a fast break.

Michigan star Trey Burke, in one of only two first-half scores for him, pulled the Wolverines within 5-3, before Oladipo swung a pass to an open Hulls for another 3-pointer.

Hulls would score only three more points all game, but his contributions continued to show, particularly as the opening spree continued.

The score still 8-3, Burke drove the lane with only Hulls in his way. Crean said the team fully expected Michigan to attack Hull’s defense as a perceived weak link. However, Hulls firmly planted his feet to the floor and allowed Burke to bowl him over and sustain a charging call.

The ball back to IU, freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell sank a layup off a Hulls pass to give IU the 10-3 advantage that would end up as its largest of the game even just 3:55 in.

Crean opted to go to the bench shortly afterward, the score now 10-5, sophomore guard Remy Abell and freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell entering with the benefit of an early cushion.

“We were playing for championship,” Hollowell said. “(We had to) come out hard, make a run and just give it our all for this last game.”

However, Michigan quickly chipped away at the IU lead, then eclipsed it on a 13-2 run, part of a larger 24-6 momentum switch. IU would trail by as many as 11 points.

Even as the run began to gain steam, though, Crean did not put his starters back in and indeed continued to go to the bench. With the game tied 10-10, Crean took out sophomore forward Cody Zeller despite Zeller’s pleas to play the entire game.

“That was a big run for them, but it wasn’t like we were playing badly,” Crean said. “We went under a screen. We didn’t get back in transition a couple times. They got themselves going.”

As IU focused on collapsing around Michigan penetration attempts in the lane, several Wolverines began to find open shots from beyond the perimeter. Crean said he knew this would be an inevitability to an extent, but that was nonetheless the team’s biggest shortcoming in following its defensive gameplan.

Crean pointed out that, offensively during that stretch, IU missed a slew of layups.

“When you’re missing those layups, it’s not like they are not going to go at some point,” Crean said. “The law of averages and percentages said those shots were going to go, so no one was concerned about it.”

Though not as dramatic as the game’s opening minutes, IU opened the second half with a run as well, turning a three-point halftime deficit into a lead in less than two minutes.

Michigan fought back, building its own lead back to six, before Hollowell, who had struggled offensively in the first half scored five consecutive points — on a put-back and a 3-pointer — and another 3-pointer by junior forward Will Sheehey gave IU a 48-46 edge.

“I was open, knocked it down,” Hollowell said. “It was a real good feeling to contribute to a win.”

Crean said Hollowell has made recent strides in practice and that the freshman’s string in the second half was no surprise.

The lead would continue to jump back and forth. However, Crean said his squad remained confident, having already seen its own ability in this game to both weather opposing runs and go on its own tears.

“When it was 10-3, I had no doubt that we were here to stay,” Crean said. “When we got down, I had no doubt that we were here to stay.”

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