BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)—Threes will beat frees every time.
Roderick Wilmont and D.J. White scored 15 points apiece and No. 23 Indiana hit 10 3-pointers to offset a huge free throw advantage for Michigan in a 76-61 victory over the Wolverines on Saturday.
Michigan made twice as many foul shots as field goals, while Indiana outscored the Wolverines 30-6 from behind the arc.
“There’s a difference in being aggressive and not being smart,” Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We’re an aggressive team, so we’re going to foul more than most people.
“There’s going to be a free throw disparity in most games,” he added. “But on some of the fouls today, we were maybe a step slow. Michigan’s an inside team. Sometimes we’re trying hard and get penalized for that. It’s not the referees.”
The win was Indiana’s 11th straight over Michigan and 10th in a row over Wolverines coach Tommy Amaker. It also was the Hoosiers’ 13th consecutive victory at home, their longest winning streak in Assembly Hall since winning 56 in a row from 1991-95.
Until the final 8 minutes, the Hoosiers went to the foul line only six times, making just one. Michigan, meanwhile, hit 18 of its first 22 free throws and finished 29-of-35 to Indiana’s 10-of-18.
“With the number of times we went to the line, you’d like to think that if you do that, especially on the road, I would have predicted we’d probably be a lot closer, if not win,” Amaker said.
“We were the aggressor as far as trying to use the foul line to score, and not being able to score from the floor hurt. When you’re not shooting as well from the floor, you’d like to get some second-chance points, and we didn’t get many of those.”
The Hoosiers (15-5, 5-2 Big Ten) were coming off a season-low 43 points in a loss at Illinois but took control early with their 3-point shooting. One 3-pointer by Wilmont and two straight by Lance Stemler helped Indiana to an 11-0 start, while the Wolverines (16-6, 4-3) missed their first four shots and hit only one field goal in the game’s first 9 minutes.
“We just wanted to come out and attack as a team,” Stemler said. “We thought to win the first four minutes was crucial, and shots fell. I got open looks, and they fell.”
Indiana outrebounded Michigan 35-28. White had seven boards and blocked three shots; Stemler pulled down five rebounds.
“We thought if we could be physical with them we could take the lanes away. We wanted to keep a body on them all the time,” Stemler said.
Indiana took a 35-26 lead at halftime, widened it to 20 points with 14-3 run at the start of the second half and never led by fewer than eight points the rest of the way.
Stemler and freshman Armon Bassett added 11 points each for the Hoosiers. Michigan, which hasn’t won in Assembly Hall in 12 years, shot a season-low 35 percent from the field and was led by Dion Harris, Ron Coleman and Lester Abram with 12 points each.
“The big difference, obviously, was the beginning of both halves. They put us on our heels right away,” Amaker said. “We settled down and made some solid basketball runs after that, but … when you put yourself in a hole like that, there’s no margin for error.”
Indiana, which has won 14 of its last 15 games against the Wolverines, led by as many as 12 points in the first half, although Michigan’s foul shooting kept the Hoosiers from putting the game away early.
The Wolverines outscored the Hoosiers 11-1 on free throws in the first half, but each time Michigan came close, Indiana answered with a 3-pointer.
Eight of the Hoosiers’ first 13 baskets were 3s, including three each by Wilmont and Stemler. Indiana’s last four field goals in the first half also were 3-pointers, including two straight by Wilmont for the nine-point lead at the break.
The Hoosiers’ biggest lead in the second half was 49-29, but the Wolverines had 14 free throws in the next 11 minutes and closed to 64-56 with just more than three minutes remaining. Mike White then hit a basket and free throw to end the comeback, and the Hoosiers pulled away at the finish.