Michigan basketball beats Indiana, closes in on Big Ten title

by 24USATVFeb. 28, 2021, 5 a.m. 29
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Michigan pulled away from another Big Ten opponent on Saturday, and is now on the verge of a Big Ten title.

The Wolverines won 73-57 at Indiana behind Franz Wagner’s second straight 21-point game to improve to 13-1 in the Big Ten and 18-1 overall. They will clinch the Big Ten regular-season title with one more win or one more Illinois loss. Illinois visits Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon (2:00, ESPN).

An 8-0 run put Michigan ahead by 17 with 11:23 left. Indiana never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.

Michigan won its eighth straight against Indiana with balanced scoring: Isaiah Livers hit four 3s and scored 16 to go along with 10 rebounds; Mike Smith had 14 points; Hunter Dickinson tallied 13.

The Wolverines stifled the Big Ten’s top scorer, Iowa’s Luka Garza on Thursday night. They did the same to Trayce Jackson-Davis on Saturday. The sophomore forward entered as the league’s third best scorer (20.3 points per game) and second best rebounder (9.5 per game). Jackson-Davis was just 3-for-12 against Michigan, finishing with 10 points and four rebounds.

The Hoosiers shot 39 percent from the field, just 4-of-15 from 3, and fell to 12-12 (7-10). Aljami Durham led the home team with 15 points.

Livers hit three 3s in the first 2:15 of the second half as Michigan went up 51-38. Indiana cut it to nine before Michigan’s aforementioned 8-0 burst. Dickinson scored inside. A steal led to Wagner’s finger-roll finish in transition. Dickinson shuffled a pass to Wagner inside for another layup. Livers flew in and flushed Chaundee Brown’s missed corner 3, and it was 59-42.

Wagner finished 6-of-9 from the field and made all eight of his free throw attempts.

Michigan never trailed after the first few minutes. Following a pair of Smith free throws, Michigan deployed a press, rare for U-M this season. Wagner stole a pass and converted an and-one to make it 12-8. Michigan went up 22-16 on a Smith 3. Consecutive turnovers by Michigan helped Indiana cut it to one, but a Smith 3, Dickinson and-one, and four free throws made it 32-21.

The Wolverines led by as many as 13 in the first half but Indiana scored the final four points of the half, including a long 2-point jumper at the buzzer to make it 42-33.

Michigan shot 16-of-18 from the foul line in the first half and finished 17-of-19, the only misses coming from Austin Davis as a result of a hook-and-hold flagrant foul.

The Wolverines host Illinois on Tuesday before closing with a home-and-home against Michigan State on March 4 and 7.

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