No. 21 Indiana men’s basketball traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan Sunday afternoon with hopes of exercising past demons against No. 2 Michigan.
The last two times the Hoosiers went to Ann Arbor they lost by a combined 44 points and this year was no different in the 74-63 loss. A slow start put Indiana in a massive hole that they were unable to climb out of as the Wolverines led wire to wire.
Here are our three takeaways from Sunday’s loss.
Slow Start Hurts Hoosiers
Time and time again, this Indiana team has gotten off to slow starts. The Hoosiers have been down early at Penn State, home against Louisville and in the Crossroads Classic versus Butler, but able to overcome all of those to win.
Sunday’s deficit of 17 points down 30-13 at the under-12 first half media timeout was too insurmountable to come back.
Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford each picked up two fouls in the first four minutes that forced them to sit. As the Wolverine lead grew, Archie Miller had no choice but to put his stars back in the game even with foul trouble.
Not having those two playmakers on the floor proved costly as Michigan started 8-of-9 shooting the ball. Also, by the end of the 11-point loss, Langford had a plus minus of zero and Morgan was only at -2.
Usually turnovers are a major part if Indiana struggles as they average nearly 15 per game. That wasn’t the case Sunday as the Hoosiers only turned the ball over seven times in the loss against one of the best defensives in the nation. However, when Indiana did turn the ball over, Michigan made them pay by scoring 12 points off those seven miscues.
Who is the third scorer?
It’s evident that Langford and Morgan are going to produce every night for Indiana, but where is the help for these two top dogs? The duo combined for 42 points in the loss while the rest of the team had just 21 points spread out among six different players.
No other Hoosier reached double-figures in the contest and the bench had a grand total of zero points. When Indiana gets freshman point guard Robert Phinisee back from his concussion that will help, but even then he has only put up seven points a game so far.
In a game like this against a quality opponent and its top two players in foul trouble, Indiana needed Al Durham, Devonte Green or Justin Smith to step up. Instead, they looked to Morgan and Langford for 33 of the team’s 54 shot attempts.
Second Half Adjustments Seem Promising
If Indiana didn’t dig themselves in such a massive hole through the first ten minutes, they would have had a chance to win. After being down 15 at halftime, Indiana actually outscored Michigan 34-30 in the second half.
As Indiana lacked a defensive presence in the first 20 minutes, they allowed Michigan to shoot 58-percent from the field in the first half and 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
The second half defense was much tighter as Michigan missed all seven of its three-point attempts and shot just 40-percent from the field in the final half.
These adjustments were promising because it shows that Indiana can hang with the top dogs in the nation. Although much like the Duke loss, a slow start proved to be the difference and a double-digit loss was still the end result.