Cody Zeller likes late night games. #3 Indiana tipped off against #1 ranked Michigan just after 9 p.m. Saturday night at Assembly Hall. That allowed the Hoosiers sophomore seven-footer to take about a two hour nap in the afternoon. Zeller played well rested in leading IU with 19 points and nine rebounds in an 81-73 win over Michigan.
"We've played late games before," said Zeller. "It just kind of delays stuff. I like it because it gives me more time to nap. Every game should be at night."
The win should propel the Hoosiers back to the number one ranking in college basketball, because 2nd ranked Kansas lost Saturday. Indiana (20-2, 8-1) started the season ranked number one based on expectations. The Hoosiers are back on top based on performance.
"It's a huge accomplishment," said Indiana junior Victor Oladipo, who scored 15 points. "We started there. We've had a hard road to get back here."
Indiana beat a number one ranked team at Assembly Hall for the second consecutive season. Fans rushed the court and stayed there in a wild celebration with the players when IU beat Kentucky last season on Christian Watford's shot at the buzzer. This time fans stayed in the stands and the players quickly exited, hoping for bigger celebrations still to come later this season.
Indiana started hot behind the support of a raucous crowd. The Hoosiers hit their first four three-point shots and built a 15 point lead in the first half.
"We were getting a lot of movement through penetration," said Zeller. "That's when we're at our best. To start off the game, we always feed off the crowd. We have to give a lot of credit to how great the crowd was tonight."
The Wolverines came back to tie the game at 40 early in the second half before IU scored the next 11 points. The Hoosiers hit their final 14 free throws of the game to seal the victory. All five Indiana starters scored in double figures.
"Sometimes in these situations when there is so much attention, hoopla and hype surrounding a game, it can't live up to it," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "But this one did, I think."
Trey Burke led Michigan (20-2, 7-2) with a game-high 25 points and eight assists. The Wolverines should not drop far in the polls, maybe just a spot to number two. Michigan goes home to play Ohio State on Tuesday. Indiana travels to Illinois Thursday.