Attempting to match its longest winning streak in almost two years, Indiana begins conference play Tuesday night against a rival it has dominated of late.
The 16th-ranked Hoosiers (8-2) face Michigan (10-1) at Assembly Hall as the teams’ Big Ten schedules get underway.
The Hoosiers are looking to win five straight games for the first time since Jan. 11-27, 2004—a streak began with a 59-57 road victory over the Wolverines.
That win improved Indiana to 9-1 in its last 10 meetings with Michigan. The Hoosiers haven’t lost to the Wolverines at home since a 65-52 defeat on Jan. 24, 1996.
Michigan last beat Indiana 70-64 on Jan. 9, 2001, during Mike Davis’ first year as Indiana coach.
“It’s a great atmosphere there,” Michigan guard Daniel Horton said of Assembly Hall. “With their tradition there, they feel like they should never lose a home game there. But at the same time, we’ve had our opportunities to win down there.”
The Hoosiers wrapped up nonconference play with an 80-56 win over Ball State on Saturday. Robert Vaden tied his career high with 22 points and contributed six assists for Indiana, which shot 55.3 percent from the field.
“Over the last three or four games, he’s really been aggressive offensively,” coach Mike Davis said. “This is the way we expect him to play, and he’s playing some great basketball.”
Vaden has made 10 consecutive 3-pointers over the last two games and set a school record by going 6-for-6 against the Cardinals. The Hoosiers finished 12-of-20 from behind the arc.
“My confidence is real high right now, and hopefully it will stay that way,” Vaden said. “Coach runs plays for guys who have the hot hand, and I think that’s the story.”
Indiana has shot better than 50 percent in each contest during its four-game winning streak. The Hoosiers have won 30 in a row when they shoot 50 percent or better.
Michigan has equaled its best start since 1989-90, but the Wolverines face their first real test after rolling through a weak nonconference schedule.
The Wolverines have played seven opponents with a winning percentage of .500 or below. Their nonconference schedule was rated 141st out of 333 Division I teams.
“When people look at the names (of the schools Michigan played), they say they’re not that good,” Horton said. “But when they come in here, you realize that they do have some talent. They do have some guys that can play.”
The Wolverines have won three in a row, including an 86-69 victory over Chicago State on Saturday. Courtney Sims had 22 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high eight blocks to power Michigan.
“His production has been tremendous,” Wolverines coach Tommy Amaker said. “He’s a kid who’s now a major part of other people’s scouting reports. He has a boatload of potential, and you’re starting to see what he’s capable of.”
Lester Abram added 19 points for Michigan.
The Wolverines are 3-0 on the road, with their only loss coming at home to then-No. 14 UCLA 68-61 on Dec. 17.
Indiana leads the series with Michigan 87-48, including 58-11 in Bloomington.