ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This was a game that Michigan would not have won last season. Blowing a 20-point lead against a talented team at home and needing to make free throws down the stretch, Michigan would have lost.
This season, however, the Wolverines are much more capable of being able to deal with an opponent’s elongated run and then come back to finish off the game, like No. 22 Michigan did on Wednesday in a 68-56 win over No. 20 Indiana.
“I don’t know,” senior guard Stu Douglass said. “If we would have missed our free throws, yeah, we would have lost this game. But right about now, we started to make our turnaround and started to get tougher mentally, but if we would have missed those free throws, yeah, it would have been a lot tougher.”
Free throws, of course, almost cost Michigan against Indiana at home last season, when the Hoosiers came back from a 22-point deficit with 5:26 remaining only to fall in the final minute, 73-69.
But this year’s team is different. Michigan made 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch. That is the difference between a team fighting to make the tournament and one fighting for seeding in the final month of the season before the NCAA tournament.