Men’s basketball: Hoosiers claim outright Big Ten title
By Lamond Pope 648-3090 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2013 8:36PM
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:37AM
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The ball clung to the rim — it felt like ... forever. And with it, a Big Ten title hung in the balance.
Seconds earlier, with Indiana holding a one-point lead, Michigan guard Trey Burke drove to the basket and missed a layup. Teammate Jordan Morgan came swooping in and attempted to tip the ball in the hoop. The ball hit the front of the rim. It bounced around to the right side and then fell off the rim, giving Indiana a 72-71 victory and its first outright Big Ten title since 1993.
The No. 2 Hoosiers scored the game’s final six points in the last 39.6 seconds to complete a remarkable comeback.
“We’ve been working so hard all season to get to this point. We’ve had some ups and downs, but this team fought through,” IU guard Jordan Hulls said. “Especially this game, we were down late and we never gave up. To win like that was pretty special for us.”
IU forward Cody Zeller had all six of the points and finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Zeller said. “Good things happen when me and Christian (Watford) catch the ball in the post. That had been working earlier in the game. Our guards were just throwing it in. I was just trying to make a play.”
Victor Oladipo had 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Burke led Michigan with 20 points.
IU (26-5, 14-4) already had clinched a share of the conference crown last week. No. 7 Michigan (25-6, 12-6) was one of the teams looking to join them.
The Wolverines appeared to be in good shape when Glenn Robinson III made one of two free throws with 52 seconds remaining to give Michigan a 71-66 lead.
Zeller scored to make it 71-68. Tim Hardaway Jr. was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Zeller made two free throws on the other end with 29.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to one.
Burke was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one. IU got the rebound — Indiana crushed Michigan on the boards 53-30 — and worked the ball down low to Zeller.
He adjusted mid-air to avoid Hardaway’s block attempt and made a layup to give IU the 72-71 lead with 13.7 seconds remaining.
“He’s such a high-level player,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “That is one of the best players that is ever going to come through Indiana.”
Burke drove the ball to the basket, but Zeller defended well and forced him to take an off-balance layup. It didn’t go in. And neither did Morgan’s tip. Time ran out as both teams scrambled for the ball, setting off a wild celebration for the Hoosiers.
“Nobody thought we were out of time,” Crean said of the comeback. “... Nobody felt like we weren’t going to come down and make plays.”
It could be the first of many magical March moments to come.