ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson doesn’t understand why the Hoosiers can’t win a road game. And he certainly couldn’t explain the way they lost on Saturday.
Lance Stemler passed the ball instead of trying a tying 3-pointer as time expired and Michigan beat No. 24 Indiana 58-55, handing the Hoosiers their fourth straight road loss.
“What do all four games have in common? That we lost them is all I can see,” Sampson said. “What was Lance thinking? You’ll have to ask him. I can’t help you on that one.”
Stemler grabbed an offensive rebound after Armon Bassett missed a 3-pointer. He got behind the arc with 2 seconds left, but passed the ball to D.J. White under the basket as the buzzer sounded.
“I knew I had to get behind the 3-point line, but when I went up, there was a guy right in my face,” Stemler said. “I was hoping maybe someone else could get off a better shot. I guess I thought I had a couple more seconds than I really did.”
Michigan (18-9, 6-6 Big Ten) helped its NCAA tournament prospects and rebounded from Tuesday’s lopsided loss to archrival Michigan State.
“Obviously, this is a huge win for us,” coach Tommy Amaker said. “I was very impressed with our effort and our hustle.”
The Hoosiers (17-8, 7-5) were missing point guard Earl Callaway, who dislocated his shoulder in Thursday’s loss at Purdue.
“They are definitely different,” Amaker said. “Errek Suhr played a tremendous game, but you can tell they don’t have the same rhythm without Earl.”
Amaker made two changes to his starting lineup, playing sophomore Jerret Smith and freshman Ekpe Udoh over Courtney Sims and Ron Coleman.
“Part of it was about matchups—we had to find a way to defend the perimeter, but we also had to show the team what kind of effort we expected,” he said. “We knew the kids would give us that effort.”
The move not only worked early, as Michigan jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but also helped down the stretch. Sims scored 13 points in 19 minutes, and Smith made up for a late turnover with two key free throws in the final 20 seconds.
“I have to give Courtney credit for the way he handled it,” Amaker said. “I can’t say enough about the way he played.”
Sims, who had four points and four turnovers against Michigan State, said he wasn’t offended by the decision.
“I’ve been benched before—it isn’t anything new—and I wanted to respond,” he said. “I didn’t want to sulk. This was a big game for our tournament hopes.”
Indiana took its first lead of the game on two free throws by Mike White that made it 47-46 with 5:01 left.
Michigan scored on its next two possessions, including a Dion Harris 3-pointer, but two baskets by Mike White left the game tied at 51. White, who didn’t score in the game’s first 32 minutes, had nine in the next five minutes.
The junior, though, missed a pair of free throws on Indiana’s next possession, then was called for a charge.
“We had guys in foul trouble, and we ended up with Mike, who is 6-5, in the post,” Sampson said. “Length was definitely a problem for us.”
That let Michigan take a one-point lead, and Smith drove past Mike White to make it 54-51 with 1:26 left.
Michigan still had a three-point lead and the ball in the final 30 seconds, but Smith’s turnover let Mike White make it a one-point game with 20 seconds to go.
After a Michigan timeout, Smith calmly hit a pair of free throws moments later, leading to Indiana’s dysfunctional final possession.
“I didn’t want him thinking about that turnover,” Amaker said. “I wanted him thinking about the next play.”
Harris led Michigan with 16 points. Mike White topped Indiana with a career-best 11.
“Everyone knew we needed a signature win,” Harris said. “We’ve had opportunities earlier this season to beat ranked teams and we haven’t taken them. Today, we made the plays.”