Indiana will try to get offense going against red-hot Michigan
By Andy pROFFET Post-Tribune correspondent February 1, 2014 9:14PM
Updated: March 3, 2014 6:02PM
BLOOMINGTON — Both times Indiana and Michigan met in basketball last season, both were among the nation’s top teams.
The Wolverines came into Bloomington last Feb. 2 ranked No. 1 in the country. The Hoosiers were No. 3, the first time IU had competed in a game with both teams in the top 5 since Feb. 14, 1993 — also against Michigan. IU won that game 81-73 as all five Hoosier starters scored in double figures.
The rematch in Ann Arbor saw the Hoosiers at No. 2 and the Wolverines ranked No. 7, and IU’s 72-71 victory gave the Hoosiers their first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 1993.
The Wolverines are once again atop the Big Ten, the conference’s only unbeaten team at 8-0. At 16-4 overall, they’re ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll, 14th in the coaches’ poll.
The Hoosiers? IU (13-8, 3-5 Big Ten) is still looking for consistency.
The Hoosiers blew a 16-point halftime lead Thursday at Nebraska, failing to carry over the success they had in their previous game against Illinois.
“We were in control of the game in the first half,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Thursday night. “And obviously it’s a 40-minute game. We knew that. But we had a pretty good idea of what they were going to go to. We kind of took the bait a little bit. That’s what we’ve got to outgrow.
“We lost this game on the defensive end more so than anything we did on the offensive side.”
Crean didn’t necessarily sense a letup in his team, despite the second-half struggles.
“I just think it was lack of awareness and to what was working for us,” he said. “We didn’t have as much being ready to be on the attack.
“We played nip and tuck but we should’ve never gotten into that hole based on our defense.”
Since consecutive wins over Wisconsin and Penn State, in which the Hoosiers scored 79 and 75 points respectively, the offense has struggled. IU is averaging 56 ppg over its last four, going 1-3 in that span. The Hoosiers have shot 37.7 percent (75-of-199) from the field in those four games.
It’s not as if IU’s opponents have been that much better, shooting 39.5 percent (79-of-200). But without a steady offensive presence, the Hoosiers have had to rely on their defense to try to win games.
And it hasn’t been enough.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have won 10 straight, which included three straight wins over Top-10 teams. They’ve done so even with Mitch McGary out indefinitely with a back injury.