Tom Izzo talks about Michigan State's win over Indiana. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Bloomington, Ind. — It was another tough day to be among the top-ranked teams in college basketball, and for a while on Saturday night, it looked like Michigan State would be the latest to fall victim to the upset.
Getting outhustled for much of the game at Indiana as the Hoosiers destroyed the Spartans on the glass, it was a big shot in the final minute from one of Michigan State’s role players that allowed the fifth-ranked team in the country to escape.
With 1:09 left on the clock, Matt McQuaid hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give Michigan State a four-point lead and help the Spartans to a 63-60 victory over Indiana at a packed Assembly Hall.
“I have had some incredible wins over my career and had some disappointing losses over my career,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I have had a few wins I didn’t feel very good about. Not many. Sometimes we’ve turned the ball over a zillion times and that bothers you. Sometimes you shoot 20 percent from the field and that bothers you. But very seldom does one of our teams get outworked and outhustled the way Indiana did. The 25-3 offensive rebounds is an insult to me, our players and anybody who ever played here. I was very disappointed in that.
“But to find a way to win on the road against a team that took Purdue right to the wire, took Duke right to the wire — the place was hopping here tonight — I think is an accomplishment.”
It took not only the big shot from McQuaid, but an impressive defensive effort that held Indiana to 28.8 percent shooting (19-for-66), including 6-for-35 in the first half. The Spartans also blocked 13 shots.
It all was enough to overcome giving up 25 offensive rebounds as Indiana won the battle on the glass, 53-29, against a Michigan State team that entered the game No. 1 in the nation in rebounding margin.
“I think we have to become tougher,” Izzo said. “That was pretty evident tonight. We got beat up. That was an old-fashioned game. My radio guy said it, one of the referees said it, it was an old-fashioned Big Ten game and I said, ‘No it’s not. Only one team was fighting. The other team getting pushed around.’”
McQuaid scored 12 points to lead the Spartans (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten), who matched the best 25-game start in program history and have now won six straight. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Joshua Langford added 10 points each while Miles Bridges was limited to seven points and eight rebounds on 3-for-7 shooting.
Matt McQuaid, Cassius Winston, Miles Bridges talk about Michigan State's win over Indiana. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
“For the first time I was a little disappointed in Miles in the rebounding part and a lot of different parts,” Izzo said. “He gets eight rebounds, but no offensive rebounds. I don't know, maybe we are a little tired. We've had a rough stretch here of games, some of them close together, and we've been on the road a little bit more and we're back on the road on Tuesday. I need him to be more into it but it wasn't his lack of motivation. They just did a good job and we did a poor job of putting him in a position to score.”
Juwan Morgan scored 23 for Indiana (12-12, 5-7) as the Hoosiers worked hard but couldn’t get the ball to go in the basket, missing 47 shots.
“The last two to three minutes (we’re) just having to find a way to make a couple of plays,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “And I think that's what teams who know how to win do, teams like Michigan State and Purdue. With two minutes on the line they know they're going to win.
“And right now we're still trying to figure out how to make those, how to make those dagger plays to find a way to win it, and just wasn't able to do it tonight.”
Michigan State’s defense was the story in the first half as Indiana made just two of its first 22 shots as the Spartans opened an 11-point lead midway through the half.
However, the Hoosiers also had 15 offensive rebounds in the half and chipped away at the Spartans’ lead, cutting it to 23-20 with 3:15 to play after a 7-1 run. Michigan State answered with a Langford jumper, three Cassius Winston free throws and a Bridges layup. A lob from Lourawls Nairn to Jackson with 10 seconds left gave Michigan State a 32-24 lead headed to the locker room.
The Hoosiers continued to hit the offensive glass in the second half, but that didn’t keep the Spartans from maintaining a solid working lead, pushing the advantage to 51-41 after a 3-pointer from Langford with 12:03 to play.
However, the Hoosiers began to chip away. After a Ward layup put Michigan State ahead 58-50, Indiana scored the next seven points. However, the Hoosiers couldn’t get over the hump as Freddie McSwain missed two free throws.
McQuaid hit the decisive 3-pointer on the next possession to help the Spartans pull away for good.
“(The shot clock) was low so I knew I had to put it up,” McQuaid said. “I shot it and it felt good and it went in.
“It feels good. It was a team-effort win tonight. The 25-3 on the offensive rebounds, that’s unacceptable. That’s not what we stand for so we’ve got to fix that as soon as we get back. That’s something we pride ourselves on is toughness and we didn’t do that tonight.”
They did, however, get the win. It’s something No. 4 Duke didn’t do and something No. 7 Kansas didn’t do, nor did No. 9 Arizona.
So, there was a silver lining for the Spartans.
“But to go against what this program stands for, the rebounding and toughness, it’s hard for me to (see the silver lining),” Izzo said. “I’m sure by time I get on the plane, by the time I get home, I’ll feel a little different about that because I’ll appreciate the fact that we did win a game in a hostile, great atmosphere.”