Michigan’s overwhelming size created a mismatch with Indiana that the Hoosiers couldn’t handle from start to finish.
Add the length and height of the Wolverines’ frontcourt to a stout Michigan defense that gave Indiana no easy opportunities and it creates a blowout. Michigan handled Indiana in the Hoosiers’ final home game of the season, 73-57, on Saturday afternoon.
The loss is Indiana’s third in a row and its NCAA Tournament hopes continue to stay in serious jeopardy as the team’s record drops to 12-12 on the season and 7-10 in the Big Ten.
“Today’s game was disappointing in the outcome,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Michigan is a terrific team. Tremendous size inside on offense and inside on defense, very difficult to stay in rhythm on offense because of their ability to switch… and they’re so big at the three, four and five.”
Miller was referring to the Michigan starting frontcourt of Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, and Hunter Dickinson. The trio presented a tough situation for Indiana to manage on both ends of the floor as Livers is 6-foot-7, Wagner is 6-foot-9, and Dickinson stands a towering 7-foot-1.
The group helped Michigan to an easy win on the boards, as the Wolverines outrebounded Indiana, 37-27.
In addition to the rebounding, seemingly every time Michigan had the ball, one of the three got a bucket or a foul. They combined for 50 of Michigan’s 73 total points. They didn’t have much trouble scoring the ball, either, as they combined for a 17-for-31 shooting performance. Wagner led the group with 21 points, followed by 16 from Livers and 13 from Dickinson.
While Indiana struggled to limit Michigan’s scoring, it could not find a way to match the Wolverines and score around the rim. Indiana was a measly 9-for-24 on layups against Michigan’s size.
The absence of Indiana center and 6-foot-11 Joey Brunk has haunted Indiana all season, but it had never been more evident than Saturday. Indiana’s two tallest and healthy options in Trayce Jackson-Davis at 6-foot-9 and Race Thompson at 6-foot-8 were just not enough to compete on the interior.
Nobody faced more trouble than Jackson-Davis. The sophomore center really struggled against the length and four-inch height disadvantage against Dickinson.
Jackson-Davis only scored 10 points on a 3-for-12 shooting outing and tied his season-low of four rebounds.
“He (Jackson-Davis) had some looks there early in the game that were tough shots against huge size and sometimes him not being able to make a couple early slows us down,” Miller said.
Despite the slow start and sour result, Indiana’s Al Durham shined on his Senior Day and potential final game inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. He led Indiana with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to serve as the rare bright spot for Indiana.
Technically, with the NCAA allowing all current athletes an extra year of eligibility Durham has the option to return for next year and have another senior season if he chooses.
Durham offered no answer in the postgame presser on whether or not he would be taking up on that opportunity.
While disappointed by the result, Durham was appreciative of the game and his whole Indiana career.
“It’s been a blessing,” Durham said. “To play on the highest stage in America… there’s no other feeling.”
Indiana has two remaining regular-season games in road trips to Michigan State on Tuesday and Purdue next Saturday. After that, they’ll have the Big Ten Tournament to ultimately determine the final direction of their season.
Indiana needs every win it can get with limited time if an NCAA Tournament bid is to come to fruition.
The past few results have not been indicative of a tournament team, but Durham remains optimistic that things are in the midst of turning around at the right time.
“We’ve got to be more furious, got to come out hungrier than the other opponent,” Durham said of the home stretch. “I feel like we’ll break through here soon.”