Published January 13, 2015
Cody Zeller's lay-in with 13 seconds remaining proved to be the difference-maker as the No. 2 Hoosiers survived on the road to down seventh-ranked Michigan, 72-71, to clinch their first outright Big Ten Conference regular-season title since 1993.
Zeller finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 14 points and 13 boards for the Hoosiers (26-5, 14-4 Big Ten), who won six of eight to end the regular season en route to picking up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Conference Tournament.
"I've been saying all year long, he should be the player of the year," Oladipo said of Zeller. "If you don't give it to him, something's wrong with y'all."
Glenn Robinson III gave Michigan a 71-66 edge with 52 seconds remaining as he made 1-of-2 free throws before the Hoosiers capped off an improbable 6-0 run to close the contest with Zeller's baseline lay-in.
Trey Burke scored 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from behind the arc for the Wolverines (25-6, 12-6), who had a chance to earn a share of the conference title for the second straight season and were looking to remain unbeaten in Ann Arbor for the first time in 36 seasons.
Michigan has the fifth seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and will play Penn State on Thursday. Indiana plays the winner of Illinois versus Minnesota, which will also take place on Thursday.
Burke got the ball and drove the hoop after Zeller's go-ahead basket, but his finger roll rattled around the rim. Jordan Morgan, though, came out of no where to try for the tip-in, but his shot also painfully hung on the rim before falling and Indiana got the ball back to secure the victory.
After an Indiana turnover on a Zeller travel, Michigan took the ball out of bounds with one minute to play. Robinson was found wide open and looked to have an easy layup, but Christian Watford came from behind for a hard foul. Robinson made 1-of-2 for a 71-66 lead.
Zeller ended a brief Indiana drought with a layup to cut the edge to three points and Indiana was forced to foul Tim Hardaway Jr. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and on the other end, Morgan fouled Zeller, who made another two from the charity stripe to make it 71-70 with 29 ticks left.
Still, Michigan had another chance to distance itself as Will Sheehey fouled Burke to go to the free throw line, but he missed the front end of another 1-and-1 as well, all but giving Indiana life again.
"This game wasn't blown on the free throw line," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Those two are our leaders, and they've won a lot of games for us. We're never going to put this on them."
Yogi Ferrell tried to find Zeller inside the paint down two with 1:30 to play and counting, but his bounce pass was off the mark and went out of bounds. Hardaway made the most of the turnover and nailed a jumper to stretch the margin to 70-66 with 1:10 to play and it looked like Michigan had the game wrapped up.
"We've been working on that all year - closing out games," Zeller added.
With under three minutes to play, Watford tossed up a desperation heave from behind the arc as the shot clock winded down, but Oladipo was waiting perfectly underneath for an unplanned alley oop lay-in. Burke, though, answered with a jumper to tie things at 66-66 with 2:14 remaining.
Robinson had a tip-in to make it 46-42 Michigan just under seven minutes into the second half, but the Hoosiers struck with two treys, one by Jeremy Hollowell and another by Sheehey to take a 48-46 edge with 12 minutes remaining.
Indiana jumped out for a 10-3 edge just four minutes into the contest. The home team, however answered with a 15-2 surge, as Robinson capped off the run with a three-point play. Nik Stauskas had eight straight at one point to highlight the flurry.
Burke then hit a triple with five minutes to play in the first half to increase the margin to 27-16, but an 11-4 swing by Indiana brought the Hoosiers within 31-27 with just over two minutes to play.
Michigan took a 33-30 lead into halftime.
"There was a strong belief (in a comeback)," Indiana coach Tom Crean said, "but obviously they had to miss some shots with the free throws to make that happen and they did."
Indiana had lost two of its last three, including a 67-58 home defeat at the hands of Ohio State on Tuesday ... Michigan is now 17-1 at home this season and 32-2 in Ann Arbor over the past two years ... Indiana defeated then-No. 1 Michigan on Feb. 2 and came away with an 81-73 victory ... Sheehey had 10 points and Jordan Hulls added nine for IU ... The Hoosiers shot 42.9 percent (30-of-70) and won the rebounding battle, 53-30.