Courtesy of a strong offensive performance from Indiana men’s basketball’s sophomore tandem Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau, the Hoosiers toppled Michigan 78-75 on Tuesday night at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ware notched 4 points in the first two minutes amid Indiana’s frenetic pace. In lieu of senior guard Xavier Johnson — who was sidelined with an ankle injury — freshman guard Gabe Cupps was a capable defender.
A little under five minutes into the game, Cupps swiped the ball from Michigan sophomore guard Dug McDaniel and took it down the floor, ultimately finding Ware for an easy bucket to put the Hoosiers ahead 11-9.
As it has been all season, Indiana’s front court was its offensive engine. A pair of free throws from sophomore forward Malik Reneau and a layup from junior forward Payton Sparks capped a 6-0 run with just over 12 minutes left in the half.
Despite some quick punches from the Wolverines, the Hoosiers’ second unit sparked an offensive surge upon its entrance. Sophomore guard CJ Gunn drained a 3-pointer and subsequently forced a turnover just 11 seconds later.
The hectic pace gave way to some sloppiness from both sides. Indiana and Michigan both coughed the ball up six times, respectively, with around seven minutes left in the half. The Hoosiers proved the ones to capitalize, though, tallying 6 points off those turnovers compared to the Wolverines’ zero.
Michigan senior forward Terrance Williams II knocked down a triple to cut Indiana’s lead to 28-26, and a fast break flush from sophomore forward Tarris Reed Jr. knotted the game at 33 apiece with just under four minutes in the period.
The Wolverines sustained their offensive momentum, rattling off an 8-0 run to take a 37-33 advantage. Indiana sophomore guard Kaleb Banks hammered home an emphatic dunk to tie the game back up at 37, but Michigan delivered the final blow of the half.
Williams’ bucket with 43 seconds remaining put the Wolverines up 39-37 heading into the half. He led both teams with 10 points at the break, and Ware came in just behind with 9.
Indiana and Michigan traded points in the opening minutes of the second half, and graduate forward Olivier Nkamhoua was frequently picking the Hoosiers apart. He notched the Wolverines’ first 8 points out of the break, displaying a mix of strength down low and touch on his jump shot.
A layup from Banks snapped a near four-minute-long scoring drought for the Hoosiers, cutting Michigan’s lead to a bucket with just over 14 minutes left. A couple minutes later, junior guard Trey Galloway — who struggled to create offensively in the first half —dropped in a hook shot to tie the game at 49.
On the other end, Michigan graduate forward Tray Jackson converted an and-one layup sequence, but Indiana senior forward Anthony Walker immediately responded with a contested bucket.
Wolverine redshirt sophomore forward Will Tschetter came alive in the second half. Tschetter posted a quick 7 points, including a triple to put Michigan ahead 59-53 with just under nine minutes to go. But as it did all game, Indiana responded.
Reneau surgically maneuvered the paint and dropped in a bucket with his off hand, and Gunn drained a 3-pointer shortly after to give the Hoosiers a 60-59 lead. Leading 66-64 after a pair of Gunn makes from the stripe, a chaotic near-minute-long stretch resulted in a game tying layup from Tschetter with just under five minutes to go.
As both sides continued to strike back and forth, Galloway appeared to shift momentum in Indiana’s favor with a physical layup to put the Hoosiers ahead by a pair with 2:35 to go. But roughly a minute later, Nkamhoua nailed a jumper to knot the game at 73.
With under a minute left and the shot clock winding down, Indiana turned to Ware for the go-ahead score. Ware shimmied inside and powered his way close to the hoop to float in a hook shot.
Ware swatted Michigan’s inbounds attempt in the final seconds to secure Indiana’s victory, its seventh of the season and second straight in conference play.
Next, the Hoosiers travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to take on Auburn University on Saturday afternoon. Tip is set for 2 p.m.