No. 1-ranked Indiana reigns despite hail of Michigan's 3s Freshman Evans steps up to secure 93-92 Big Ten win

February 15, 1993|By Ashley McGeachy | Ashley McGeachy,Contributing Writer

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana needed an umbrella, a raincoat and galoshes to survive the many fronts Michigan blew its way yesterday.

"We weathered the storm," said Indiana senior Calbert Cheaney. "We just kept playing."

The top-ranked Hoosiers got protection from the elements in what coach Bob Knight called "a total team effort" to beat Michigan, 93-92, at Assembly Hall for their 11th straight victory. The Wolverines, ranked No. 4 going into the game, dropped to fifth in the poll released last night.

Five players scored in double figures for the Hoosiers, including a 17-point effort by freshman forward Brian Evans. It was his two free throws with two seconds left that put Indiana up 93-89 and made Chris Webber's three-pointer at the buzzer for naught.

The win was Indiana's 27th in a row at home, the longest such streak in the nation with Nevada-Las Vegas' loss yesterday to Louisville, which ended the Runnin' Rebels' 59-game home winning streak.

The win preserved Indiana's perfect conference record. The Hoosiers improved to 22-2, 11-0 in the Big Ten. Michigan fell to 19-4 and 8-3.

"We're not going to win the Big Ten title. It would take a major miracle," coach Steve Fisher said.

An early second-half run spurred by the play of senior Matt Nover and capped by a three-pointer by Evans helped the Hoosiers maintain their winning streak. Nover pulled Indiana even at 46-46 on the first play of the second half, then caught a feed from Cheaney and hit the ensuing layup to give Indiana its first lead.

However, Michigan charged right back with a three-point attack by Jimmy King. The Wolverines pushed their lead to 70-61 on a three-point play by Ray Jackson and two free throws by Jalen Rose.

Then Nover, who was shooting 45.5 percent from the foul line, did the unthinkable -- he hit four of five from the free-throw line. In addition, the 6-foot-9 center converted on a three-point play and followed Alan Henderson's missed three-point attempt to keep the Hoosiers in the game and within five points.

"Nover did a great job," Knight said. "He went to the board well. He took advantage of what he had. He was a key for us in terms of trying to get his quickness back into play offensively and getting to the free-throw line, and then we hoped that he'd make a couple. Then he followed up a couple of shots."

Costly mistakes such as a turnover by Webber and a badly missed three-point try by Rose helped the Hoosiers' rally. With 5:48 left, Evans hit a three-pointer from the right corner to put Indiana up 79-78.

The Wolverines never regained the lead.

"That [run] may directly be related to Indiana's defense," said Fisher. "We had a couple of turnovers, but you have to get shots. We had two turnovers in a row and maybe three or four or five possessions where we were trying to regroup a little bit and get a little confidence, and they knocked us down every time.

"They had a huge run. We have not had that happen to us to that degree all season, even in the games that we had lost previously. We did not do a good enough job to be able to stop it and mount a little run of our own."

Michigan went cold for nearly five minutes after Evans' bomb, until Webber began his three-point attack with 54 seconds remaining. With the clock working against him, Webber made three three-pointers, including the one at the buzzer.

"Their three-point shooting was excellent," Knight said. "I would not under any circumstances want to try to play Michigan again with that kind of three-point shooting. I think that makes them about as tough to beat as a team can be."

The Wolverines, who made a season-high 12 three-pointers in 22 attempts and shot 58 percent for the game, have lost both games to Indiana this season.

"We did a good job of not taking the first shot," Fisher said. "I was disappointed we weren't up more at the half. We were able to fight off their charges until the end. It was a tough, tough loss to a team that, to their credit, forced us into turnovers at crucial spots. We never gave up. We just couldn't make the big plays when we had to."

Last season, Webber and the other members of Michigan's Fab Five showed college basketball that freshmen could take a team all the way to the Final Four. But yesterday's loss left Webber asking a question about Indiana's Evans that should have sounded quite familiar:

"Is he just a freshman?"

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