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Takeaways from Michigan’s loss to Indiana

The Wolverines start off conference play with a loss to the Hoosiers.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines really needed a victory to begin the conference slate, but they instead lost a close one to Indiana, 78-75, on Tuesday night. Michigan has now lost five of its last six games and are 4-5 overall on the year.

Here are some takeaways from the loss.

Michigan’s defense still leaves a lot to be desired

Once again, the Wolverines struggled to get stops in this one. It feels like they’re a half-step behind on almost every defensive possession.

Phil Martelli told the media Monday morning “everybody has to amp it up on defense,” saying this team needs to get better at closing out on shooters and playing sound on-ball defense. Poor closeouts plagued Michigan, with Indiana taking advantage of some flat-footed on-ball defense and getting to the rim a lot.

Michigan’s transition defense left a lot to be desired, especially early in the first half. It felt like every time they scored, Indiana would get up the floor and score on the very next possession to squash any sort of momentum.

Late in the first half, the Wolverines did start to put together a few stops in a row. It helped the Hoosiers turned the ball over 10 times in the half. That said, Michigan’s rotations were about a pass late for most of the second half, and Indiana was able to capitalize with good ball movement.

Not getting stops late and not making free throws late in this one were the daggers.

Indiana dominates in the paint

The Hoosiers did not shoot the ball well Tuesday night, but they were dominant in the paint.

A lot of their shots came at the rim, combined with the fact they rebounded well and went into the post a ton, and Michigan couldn’t get stops consistently in the post. All in all, they crushed the Wolverines when it came to points in the paint, 52-28.

With all the size Michigan has, it can’t afford to get beaten that badly inside.

Nkamhoua settles in down the stretch

Michigan struggled to get into much of a rhythm offensively in the first half, with both teams playing pretty sloppy basketball. However, Olivier Nkamhoua took over to start the second half.

He had Michigan’s first eight points in the second half, scoring in the mid-post and from mid-range. The Tennessee transfer finished with a team-high 18 points and five rebounds, and was the best player on the floor for large portions of this game.

With his size and college basketball experience, Michigan is going to need him in conference games like this, especially when offense doesn’t come easy.

Michigan’s bench steps big time up, especially Tschetter

We often see role players play better at home, and that was exactly the case for the Wolverines.

After the offense got off to a slow start, Tray Jackson, Will Tschetter and Jaelin Llewellyn were the first guys off the bench, and they all made an impact. The trio combined to score 22 points off the bench.

I was especially impressed with Tschetter in this one; he didn’t make a ton of jump shots, but defenders closed out on him hard after his hot start and he took advantage, putting the ball on the floor before finishing at the rim. He also scored on a nice post fadeaway, showing he can hurt you in more ways than one.

He finished with 17 points off 6-of-7 shooting and six rebounds. The leap he’s taken offensively since last season is evident, and he’s rightfully earned more playing time.

Playing at a quicker pace helps, but this game never had a good flow to it

Martelli told the media after the first game he wants this team to play quick, not fast, and they thrived at a quick pace against Indiana.

You have to get stops to play quick, and forcing a few takeaways helped the Wolverines thrive at a quick pace; after scoring only one fast break point in the loss to Oregon, they had seven in the first half and nine in the game.

The refs were calling it tight in this one, with the teams combining for 40 fouls. Neither team could play at a quick pace consistently with all those fouls, but it was nice to see the Wolverines succeed when they did get those chances. With their personnel, they can thrive playing quick.

Up next

The Wolverines aren’t in action again until this weekend, as they head to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes. That game is set to tip-off at 4:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.