No. 3 Michigan aims to continue torrid stretch vs. Indiana

NCAA Basketball

No. 3 Michigan will look to continue its late-season run toward a Big Ten championship when it visits Indiana on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington.

The Wolverines (17-1, 12-1 Big Ten) won their sixth straight game on Thursday night with a 79-57 victory over No. 9 Iowa. Franz Wagner finished with 21 points and also dished four of Michigan’s 13 assists.

“Franz has always been the type of guy who loves getting into the gym, working on his game, never made excuses for himself,” Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s accepted it and he’s gotten better and better with it. And I’m not surprised. When someone works on it, good things happen.”

Michigan has been balanced on offense all season, with Wagner (12.2 ppg), Isaiah Livers (14.4 ppg) and Hunter Dickinson (14.9 ppg) all averaging in double figures in scoring.

A two-week COVID-19 pause earlier this month hasn’t impacted Michigan’s offensive efficiency. Howard said the players deserve the credit for how well the Wolverines played since the break. Michigan has won four in a row since the COVID-19 pause, with three of the wins coming against ranked teams.

“We live by family being a part of the culture, being all-in, accountability, sacrifice, discipline,” Howard said. “Those things have translated to the players and they’ve accepted that. It’s based on what the culture is all about here at Michigan.”

Indiana (12-11, 7-9) is looking to snap a two-game losing streak in its home finale. The Hoosiers have gone 6-5 at home this season and 4-5 at home in Big Ten play.

On Wednesday night, Indiana was unable to hold an early 15-point lead in a 74-63 loss at Rutgers. The Hoosiers trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half and were outscored 39-32 in the final 20 minutes.

“It’s the first time all season long our team has really looked fractured where we didn’t know how to compete, what to do,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “And that goes back to me, I have to figure this out and get our team back up off the mat here because we have a big finish. We have a lot of things at stake. We have a lot of things right in front of us. We’ve worked very hard to get right there.”

Indiana’s defense has struggled of late, allowing an average of 75.6 points over its last five games. It won’t get any easier facing a high-powered Michigan offense that’s averaging 79.2 points per game.

Trayce Jackson-Davis (20.3 points, 9.5 rebounds) has been Indiana’s most consistent player, posting 10 double-doubles on the season. But the Hoosiers need more production in the backcourt, particularly at the point guard spot, where starter Rob Phinisee and backup Khristian Lander were held scoreless at Rutgers.

“At the end of the day it’s not just one position,” Miller said. “We’ve got to get much more contributions from a lot of guys right now.”

It will be Senior Day for Indiana guard Al Durham, who is averaging 11.5 points per game and coming off a 20-point game against Rutgers.

–Field Level Media

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