Spartans tame Hoosiers big man Jackson-Davis; Loyer undergoes shoulder surgery
When Michigan State last played Indiana a little more than a week ago, big man Trayce Jackson-Davis nearly beat the Spartans all on his own.
The sophomore scored a career-high 34 points that day against Michigan State, but the Spartans exploded with 52 second-half points to offset the performance from Jackson-Davis and pull out a seven-point win, one that began a stretch of four victories in five games for Michigan State.
So, when the Hoosiers came to Breslin Center on Tuesday night for the rematch, you can bet limiting Jackson-Davis was at the top of the list of priorities for the Spartans.
“That was personal, and that was embarrassing,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, adding that Indiana forward Race Thompson also scored 15 in that meeting, giving Indiana’s frontcourt a combined 49 points.
Whatever Izzo and associate head coach Dwayne Stephens did with Michigan State’s big men, it certainly worked. Jackson Davis scored nine points on 1-for-5 shooting and had seven rebounds, while Thompson was limited to eight points in Michigan State’s 64-58 victory.
“I give DJ a lot of credit on that because I kind of put it on him that he should take it personal and put it on the players they should take it personal,” Izzo said. “I just thought we did a better job of not letting them get the ball so deep.”
Keeping Indiana’s best player off balance was critical as Jackson-Davis also picked up two early fouls, limiting his time on the court in the first half.
The second half didn’t go much better, and Jackson-Davis was clearly frustrated.
“They did a much better job of not giving him deep of catches,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “He didn't have an easy time once he did catch the ball because of the overall bodies in and around the basket. It was a physical game. Both teams shot 30 free throws. They called 45 personal fouls in the game. It wasn't an easy game to play in. A couple of his calls were very tough, and I thought, especially once he picked up his third, he was kind of out of rhythm.”
Jackson-Davis entered the game averaging 19.8 points and failed to score double digits for the first time this season.
“We put in a few wrinkles that we thought we could do,” Izzo said. “We did all that in a day and it was pretty good of our players to pick it up. He's a hell of a player and I thought we put a lot of effort into containing him, not stopping him. We did a damn good job and our bigs and DJ deserve the credit.”
Loyer out after shoulder surgery
Michigan State junior guard Foster Loyer had surgery to repair his injured right shoulder this week and will likely be out the rest of the season.
“I want him to have a fair chance to be able to play next year,” Izzo said. “So, we all decided that the best bet, because he wasn't going to be able to play, would be to have the surgery and he had it this morning.”
Loyer first hurt his shoulder Feb. 6 in a victory over Nebraska then aggravated it in the next game at home against Penn State. He played 20 minutes on Feb. 13 against Iowa, but did not score, then played only two minutes at Purdue three days later before being unable to continue, and he has not played since.
Late last week, Izzo said there were discussions ongoing about how to handle Loyer’s injury, but as Loyer continued to test the shoulder, it was clear he needed to have surgery.
“He tried to shoot and couldn't get that left arm up,” Izzo said. “He was here tonight and he’ll be laid up for a couple of days. I don't know if he can go with us (to Michigan) or not. He was still awesome. I gained a lot of respect for him, too, just how he's handled everything and what he's done for this team.”
Quick turnaround vs. UM
Izzo opted to wait until Wednesday to discuss the upcoming games with Michigan, but did offer a quick assessment of Michigan State’s rival and how the Spartans will prepare with very little time off in a hectic close to the season.
“Well, there will be no excuses no matter what we do,” Izzo said. “You could say we're playing one of the best teams in the Big Ten, we're playing one of the best teams in the country. I think they've done a hell of a job, those guys have grown. They've got a hell of a center and a transfer point guard that has been dynamite. But don't think that the meat and potatoes of that team isn't (Isaiah) Livers and those wings and (Eli) Brooks – he's been a warrior for four years. He's been through it all.
“I think we're going to do everything we can to get ready for them. The energy and emotion of the game will help you for a little while, but we have our work cut out.”