For weeks, Indiana fans begged the Hoosiers to start fast. On Saturday, the Hoosiers did that. The problem? IU didn’t sustain that level of play for the rest of the game.
Despite a 13-point first-half lead, IU (12-10, 7-8 B1G) gave up 52 second-half points in a 78-71 loss to the Michigan State Spartans (11-9, 5-9 B1G). The Spartans snapped a two-game skid on the season, and ended a three-game drought against the Hoosiers.
Archie Miller started the same five of Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis, after that group led the way for the Hoosiers in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota. This unit imposed their will on the Spartans from the jump, starting with a forced turnover and a physical layup by Jackson-Davis on the first possession. IU jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first six minutes. It ballooned up to 19-6 advantage with 11:15 left in the half.
Jackson-Davis dominated the early portion of the game. He scored IU’s first five points of the afternoon, as well as 10 of the first 14. Jackson-Davis and Thompson seemingly affected every shot inside, and the Hoosiers frequently forced Michigan State mistakes. The Spartans committed three turnovers in the first three minutes and gave it away 10 times in the first half. IU scored 11 points off those turnovers.
Michigan State clawed their way back into the game through the play of Aaron Henry and Thomas Kithier. Henry played all 20 minutes of the first half, leading his team with 11 points. Kithier didn’t put up the most gaudy numbers, but IU’s offense looked considerably more uncomfortable with him on the floor. Kithier finished a team-high +7 in the first half for the Spartans.
After the break, IU accelerated into the lead through its starting lineup. MSU head coach Tom Izzo decided against putting his bench players like Kithier, Rocket Watts, or Gabe Brown on the floor to start the second half, and IU took advantage. Thompson recorded his sixth steal of the game, scored a second-chance bucket, and the Hoosiers opened up a 43-33 lead. Thompson finished with a career-high seven steals.
Michigan State, who has fought through all sorts of adversity this season, would not go away. The Spartans reserves brought them back into the contest once again, and this time, MSU went ahead for the first time. Henry, the Indianapolis native, scored a bucket in the lane to give Michigan St. a 54-52 lead, and they never looked back.
MSU had scored more than 70 points just three times in conference play all season, but in the second half, the Hoosiers didn’t have any answers for Michigan St. The Spartans put up an eye-popping 1.486 points per possession (PPP) in the second period. They came into the game at .978 PPP on the season, and just .935 PPP in conference play.
Before Indiana could get up off the mat, MSU went on a 37-15 run to open up a 12-point lead with 4:47 to go. IU tried to get back into the contest through Jackson-Davis, who finished with a career-high 34 points in the game. IU’s starting backcourt of Phinisee and Durham could never settle in to the game, and down the stretch, they continued to find everything but the bottom of the basket. Durham and Phinisee finished the game 0-10 from the field in 66 combined minutes.
IU got within four late, thanks to a Franklin step-back three-pointer, but made free throws by Watts and Josh Langford sealed the win for MSU.
Indiana Box Score
Michigan St. Box Score
Next Up: at Rutgers
The Hoosiers hit the road to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-8, 8-8 B1G) on Wednesday at 8PM ET on BTN. Rutgers defeated the Hoosiers earlier this season in Bloomington, 74-70. KenPom currently projects a 67-64 win for Rutgers.
Featured Photo: Indiana University Athletics