Matt Charboneau breaks down Michigan State's loss at Indiana The Detroit News
Bloomington, Ind. — To Tom Izzo, Michigan State played well enough to win on Saturday.
However, with the game on the line, he didn’t think the Spartans had anything left.
Excuse? Maybe, but the numbers bear it out as No. 6 Michigan State was held scoreless for the final 4:13 of the game as Indiana stormed back for a 63-62 victory at Assembly Hall, completing the season sweep of the Spartans and dealing a critical blow to Michigan State’s championship hopes in the Big Ten.
“It’s a shame what happened today, and we just ran out of gas,” Izzo said. “We played good enough to be up 10 most of the game and I guess …”
The Michigan State coach trailed off, looked at the box score for a minute as his fingers rubbed his forehead. Of his five starters, none played less than 32 minutes and that fatigue showed in the final minutes as the Hoosiers outscored the Spartans, 12-3, down the stretch to pull off the upset.
MSU coach Tom Izzo met the media after Saturday's loss to Indiana. The Detroit News
“My guys gave me everything they had,” Izzo said. “I wish a couple of guys would have played a little better, but I’ve got no fault on what they’ve done. … I just think we were completely out of gas and that was no fault of my players. That fault goes to me and credit to Indiana and what they did.”
What Indiana did was almost hand the Big Ten title to its biggest rival, Purdue, which holds a one-game lead with two to play. Michigan State (23-6, 14-4 Big Ten) now sit a full game behind the Boilermakers, tied in second place with Michigan.
The Hoosiers put the Spartans in that position by nailing nine 3-pointers, one less than the last meeting with Michigan State. They entered the game shooting just better than 26 percent from 3-point range in conference play and got three from Justin Smith in the first half. Smith had only made four all season before going on to score a career-high 24 points. Devonte Green chipped in 13 points for the Hoosiers.
“I was due to hit some shots,” Smith said. “I hadn’t hit a couple in a while and then once I got a couple going my teammates kept giving me confidence, told me to keep shooting it. That’s what I did, and I was able to make a couple.”
The Hoosiers (15-14, 6-12) also attacked the offensive glass, grabbing 15 with 10 coming in the second half. The critical play in the game was when Juwan Morgan grabbed an offensive rebound, scored on the put-back and was fouled with 1:46 to play. His free throw gave Indiana its first lead since 2-0 and proved to be the final margin.
MSU's Matt McQuaid, Xavier Tillman, Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins met the media after Saturday's loss to Indiana. The Detroit News
“Just another hard-fought game,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Michigan State obviously is a terrific team and being down a couple guys doesn't help their cause. But they clearly are tournament ready and a Big Ten championship type of a group. They played that way for good portions of the game.”
The Michigan State players weren’t buying the fatigue line as to why they didn’t get it done in the second half after leading by as much as 12 in the first half and 10 early in the second.
“I’m not taking that as an excuse because we’re a team that’s been versatile all season,” Xavier Tillman said. “So, it came down to rebounding in second half and that’s something we didn’t do.”
Even with the problems, Michigan State had a chance to win the game.
Cassius Winston got to the hoop, but the play was whistled dead because of an Indiana foul with 8.5 seconds to play. Winston then took the inbounds pass and got off a shot from the baseline that came up short.
“I got the separation I needed on the baseline,” Winston said. “It was dead on. It just came up a little short. I thought it was in. Came up little short.”
Winston scored 20 points and handed out 11 assists while Kenny Goins added 14 points. Tillman chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans.
Michigan State played its third game without center Nick Ward (hand) and wing Kyle Ahrens played just 10 minutes as his bad back kept him out for the bulk of the second half. Matt McQuaid did not practice all week but played nearly 36 minutes.
“The guys in there are crushed,” Izzo said. “A couple guys played their hearts out and gave me everything they’ve got. Do I wish we played a little better, a rebound bounce a little differently, have a couple threes (not go in) that haven’t gone in in a century? Yeah, you probably hope that.
“But I thought we outplayed them for 38 minutes and we didn’t win the game. That’s the beauty of basketball.”
Michigan State controlled things for much of the first half, giving up the first bucket then scoring nine straight to force an early Indiana timeout. A quick surge from the Hoosiers was answered as the Spartans eventually went up 18-8 on a McQuaid jumper.
Indiana cut the deficit to 20-15, but Michigan State scored the next seven for its biggest lead of the first half. The Hoosiers pulled within five after their fifth 3-pointer of the half before Michigan State went back up by nine and took a 35-28 lead into the locker room. The Spartans shot 60 percent in the first half but committed nine turnovers, keeping them from putting any distance between them and the Hoosiers.
The second half started all MSU again and led to a quick Indiana timeout with MSU up 11. The break helped the Hoosiers chip away, even after the Spartans went up 45-35, Indiana followed with a 9-0 run to pull within a point. The Spartans responded with six straight, but the Hoosiers answered with five more and had a chance to pull ahead before a missed 3-pointer.
Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry then nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Spartans a 54-49 lead with 7:52 to play. That lead grew to eight, but two more 3-pointers and a lob for the Hoosiers allowed them to pull within three points with 3:18 left in the game.
Smith then split a pair of free throws followed by Morgan’s winning three-point play.
“We had a lot of guys play a lot of minutes,” McQuaid said, “but the last three minutes we didn’t do the things we needed to do like rebound and we weren’t executing on the offensive end and we can’t do that.”