With the season perhaps on the line, the Michigan State Spartans got a much needed road win, 78-71 at Indiana. With the victory, the Spartans move to 11-9 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play and picked up a valuable “quad one” win over a solid Hoosier squad.
MSU had another rough start to the game. At just under 12 minutes to go in the first half, MSU mad just two of its first 11 shots from the field, had seven turnovers and trailed 19-6. Indiana sophomore center Trayce Jackson-Davis had 10 points, and the Spartans were in danger of getting run out of the gym.
Izzo once again seemed to be tinkering with his lineup. MSU started the game will Malik Hall, Julius Marble and A.J. Hoggard, but all three players struggled. MSU tried all four centers in the first half, starting with Marble, then Mady Sissoko, then Marcus Bingham Jr., and finally Thomas Kithier. MSU also experimented with playing Gabe Brown at the four for much of the second half with both Hall and Joey Hauser struggling.
Thomas Kithier seemed to have the most luck containing Jackson-Davis, and midway through the first half Brown and Henry finally started hitting shots. With three minutes left in the first half, the score was tied, 26 all. Indiana scored the last four points of the half to lead 30-26 at the break.
The second half then started much like the first half. The Hoosiers pounded the ball inside, and Indiana pushed the lead up to 10 points with under 16 minutes to play. But MSU once again hit some shots and clawed back into the game. This time, it was Josh Langford who provided the spark, scoring eight straight points for the Spartans, including a three-point play to tie the score at 52 with just over nine minutes to play.
Aaron Henry would then give the Spartans the lead on the next possession and the Spartans never looked back, pushing the lead to as much as 12 points with just under five minutes in the game. The Hoosier attempted to get back into the game late, cutting the lead to four points with 37 seconds left, but MSU protected the ball, made free throws, and closed out the game.
Indiana-native Aaron Henry led the Spartans with 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting, and five rebounds and played all 40 minutes. Josh Langford and Gabe Brown chipped in 14 points apiece and combined for 10 total rebounds.
As a team, MSU shot 49 percent from the field (29-for-59) and 41 percent from three (7-for-17) while holding Indiana to 44 percent overall and just 21 percent from three. The Spartans also out-rebounded the Hoosiers 36-to-29 and finished with 14 turnovers, despite the horrible start in that category.
Indiana’s Jackson-Davis led all players with 34 points and nine rebounds, and attempted more free throws (16) than MSU had as an entire team (15), but it was not enough for the Hoosiers on this particular Saturday.
Next up for the Spartans is a pair of home games against top-five national opponents in Illinois and Ohio State. If MSU can build on the momentum of this win in the week to come, the Green and White could make late February and March interesting after all.
MSU’s season is not over yet.