ANN ARBOR, Mi. – IUPUI was a heavy underdog Sunday afternoon against Michigan, but they played like they had nothing to lose. They put the pressure on early and built an 18-11 lead midway through the first half. Michigan recovered though and cruised just like a power-conference team should at home against a mid-major. They retook the lead with a 13-0 run to close the first half and maintained a double-figure lead over the final 17 minutes to win 77-65.
Darell Combs was key to IUPUI’s early lead. He started 4-for-5 from the floor and scored nine of their first 18 points. He finished with a game-high 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Kellon Thomas scored 11 points with four rebounds and three assists, but shot just 3-for-10 for the second game in a row. Matt O’Leary scored 13 points in his first double-figure game of the season.
Michigan featured a much more balanced offense. Zak Irvin led the way with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Both Moritz Wagner and Derrick Walton Jr. scored 13 points with six rebounds and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 12 points.
Michigan took a quick 9-6 lead just over three minutes in, but IUPUI came out hot after a timeout. Evan Hall and Combs scored layups on consecutive possessions to take a 10-9 lead and Aaron Brennan knocked down a three-pointer on the next possession to go up 13-11. T.J. Henderson made a pair of free throws a minute later and Combs finished off the IUPUI run with a 3-pointer of his own to go up 18-11 with 13:04 left in the half.
IUPUI then started to cool off and Michigan tied the game 24-24 with a 3-pointer from Walton Jr. 26 seconds later Walter Jr. hit another 3-pointer to put Michigan up 27-24 with 6:58 left in the half. IUPUI managed to retake a 32-30 lead after a jumper from Combs with 4:18 to go, but then IUPUI disappeared. Michigan scored the final 13 points of the half. During the final 4:18 of the half IUPUI shot 0-for-6 and added three fouls and a turnover.
An O’Leary jumper pulled IUPUI within 10 points with 18:08 to go, but Wagner immediately answered. IUPUI wouldn’t get within 10 points again.
Despite starting the season with consecutive losses, there are some positives to take away. IUPUI went on the road to power-conference team and a tournament team from a year ago and not only was competitive, but gave them a little scare in the first half. IUPUI played under control and managed their fouls much better than in the first game. They didn’t shoot the ball that well but they also only turned the ball over eight times.
Tough Starting Schedule for IUPUI
Just as they did a year ago, IUPUI gave themselves a tough schedule to start the season. They go on the road to four power-conference schools, Michigan, Marquette, Illinois and Northwestern. They also will play just two of their first 12 games at home. They finished just 4-10 out of conference last season before going 9-7 in conference. With Thomas and Ron Patterson playing for the Jaguars for the first time this year and D.J. McCall coming back after missing last year, this is the opportunity to experiment and find out what works so that when Summit League play rolls around, they’ll be ready to improve on last year’s performance.