Assembly Hall has traditionally been a house of horrors for Michigan.
The Wolverines sported just a 14-66 record all-time in Bloomington before Friday night. John Beilein’s two wins there — 2008 and 2017 — were so few in far between that the road threat still loomed large.
Almost immediately, Michigan laid the worries to rest, sprinting to a 20-2 lead over the typically unwelcoming hosts. The only thing that seemed to slow down the visitors was the extended clock malfunction.
Excellent ball-screen offense leads to 17-0 start
Michigan’s offense scuffled to just .82 and .92 points per possession the last two games at Wisconsin and against Minnesota. Players seemed to stand stationary, looking uncomfortable against a pair of physical defenses.
Right out of the gate, the offense reverted to classic Beilein ball movement. Ignas Brazdeikis opened the onslaught with a triple. He curled from the wing to the three-point line, as Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske occupied three defenders with pick-and-roll action.
Zavier Simpson took advantage of over-switching on the next two buckets. He blew by center Juwan Morgan for a reverse, and then drew attention in the lane before pitching it to Jordan Poole for three more.
A Brazdeikis drive looked more like a classic Calipari Kentucky weave. Another Simpson bucket came after Indiana overplayed Teske on a potential pick-and-pop. A Matthew trey from the wing and a pick-and-roll to Teske pushed the early lead to 17-0.
Despite some struggles the rest of the way (1.05 points per possession), the early spurt demonstrated the potential of this offense, as it toyed with the nation’s No. 35 efficiency defense.
Defense was pretty good, too
You look at the final numbers, and it was an ugly night for Archie Miller and Indiana.
0.7 point per possession. 27.8 percent overall from the field. Just one player in double figures.
The scary part? The first half was even worse.
It took Indiana over seven minutes to break the goose egg, as Aljami Durham converted two free throws. Halfway through the first frame, Indiana had just four points. The Hoosiers missed their first seven shots.
Miller bemoaned his team’s shooting after the game, but the Wolverines contested everything. Teske notched two blocks and a steal, Poole got vertical (as seen above) and Brazdeikis and Matthews out-muscled former five-star Romeo Langford all night.
Brazdeikis keeps Hoosiers at arm’s length
Indiana slowly crawled back into the game early in the second half. With Langford back on the court after sitting with three fouls, an 11-4 run sliced the deficit to nine.
Twice, however, the Canadian freshman stopped the bleeding. He hung around the arc, and splashed a pair of triples to boost the lead back to 41-29. The lead would never get smaller than 12 the rest of the way.
After a disastrous showing in Madison last weekend — zero points on five shots — he has clawed his way back. He needed 18 shots to get to 18 points versus Minnesota, but played far more efficiently in Bloomington.
His final stat line: 20 points (8-of-12), seven rebounds, an assist and a block.
Matthews > Langford
Last time Matthews faced Langford, he put the freshman in his place early with both offense and defense.
This time, it was mostly defense. That didn’t mean his didn’t flash some NBA moves on the other side of the court.
His smooth triple from the top of the key was followed by a step-in jumper for two. Combine those shots with his ability to slash to the bucket, and pro scouts will take notice — particularly since he did it again against a future lottery pick in Langford.
As mentioned before, the Indiana freshman picked up three fouls while adjusting to Matthews’ physicality. He scored just nine points on the night (on 12 shots). Meanwhile, the senior Wolverine notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
Nunez hits one from basically the cheap seats
Adrien Nunez drained that from his hometown Brooklyn. It also marked the first points of his Michigan career.
It was a fun way to cap the largest victory ever for Michigan at Assembly Hall.