Indiana's (10-8, 1-4) 80-61 home victory over Michigan (11-7, 1-4) on Saturday allowed for several potential headlines: the Hoosiers are now in the Big Ten win column; Verdell Jones III missed only one of 10 field goals on his way to 24 points; Christian Watford posted a double-double with 17 and 10; and Jordan Hulls deflated the Wolverines with three clutch triples.
The aforementioned contributions are worth note, of course, but lost in the points, rebounds and three-pointers is Tom Pritchard.
The 6'9" forward, making his ninth start of the season, provided much-needed defensive energy and interior disruption in a game the Hoosiers desperately needed.
Other than his seven rebounds, No. 25, on paper, wasn't overly impressive: one shot, two points, zero blocks.
But strong defense and correct positioning are attributes that "don't always show up (in the box score)," said IU head coach Tom Crean.
In perhaps his best performance in 2010-11, Pritchard "was a huge component for this team tonight," Crean said, noting the junior's status as a "smart defender" on more than one occasion.
The defense, collectively, shut down UM, holding the team to 36.4 percent shooting.
Pritchard served as an integral part to IU's best defensive effort since Big Ten play began—and perhaps prior— providing an inside presence that Watford and Derek Elston, for all their skills, have yet to acquire, at least beyond offense.
Perhaps the Michigan game served as Pritchard's transformation back to his freshman form.
"You really can trust him," said Crean.
That statement was certainly true Saturday night.
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