The Michigan State Spartans faced a dire win or realistically miss the NCAA situation in East Lansing tonight as the Indiana Hoosiers, also a make or break bubble team, came to the Breslin Center. Only one team could leave the floor with the vital win, and lucky for the Spartans faithful it was the Green and White in a hard fought 64-58 victory.
If you were looking for the equivalent of “Tressel ball” on the hardwood then this game’s start was the viewing opportunity for you! The first field goal of the game did not occur until the 15:15 mark when Trayce Jackson-Davis scored a jumper to cut the Spartan lead to one. The teams combined for 11 missed field goal attempts prior to Jackson-Davis’ jumper while shooting plenty of free throws.
Jackson-Davis’ jumper also came amidst a 7-0 run by the Hoosiers as Indiana took a 7-4 lead over Michigan State before Gabe Brown answered with a three-pointer to tie it back up with 13:41 to go in the first. The rest of the half was a back and forth affair. Neither team could really build much of a rhythm as the officials were quick on the whistle throughout much of the game.
The teams would finish the first half with Indiana having 10 team foul to Michigan State’s nine. Meanwhile the Hoosiers went 9-for-12 from the line and MSU went 9-for-13. As a comparison on shooting for the half, IU was 8-for-29 from the field and the Spartans were 8-for-22.
Down the final stretch of the first half, Michigan State would go on to tie the game twice more and never let the Hoosiers pull away by more than five. Joey Hauser hit both free throws on a one-and-one with 5:14 to go in the half to tie it up at 20 and then Joshua Langford hit a jumper with eight seconds left to tie it at 26 to head into the locker room.
Cue up the second half and it was a relative scoring explosion by comparison. Indiana took a quick lead 29-26 less than a minute into the half, but the Spartans responded quickly. MSU tied it up just 10 seconds later and took the first lead since early in the first half on a layup by Aaron Henry with 18:33 to go.
Following that brief lead, Indiana seized it again on a pair of free throws with 15:25 to go and held it until a three by Brown with 10:34 to go put Michigan State up 40-39. During the late stretch of the teens prior, the Spartans made just one of their next 12 field goal attempts.
The teams kept it close and flipped the lead back and forth until Michigan State seized the lead 53-51 on a Henry jumper with 3:37 to go and never looked back. The win ensures Indiana will finish below .500 in Big Ten play for the fifth-straight season. That is the first time that has happened since before World War I.
Henry scored 14 points in the final 4:35 of game play, which not only led Michigan State, it outpaced the entire Hoosier team combined over that period. This came for Henry after going just 2-for-7 in the first half from the field, but then shooting a hot 6-for-9 in the second half to finish the game with 22 points to lead the Spartans in scoring. He also led the team in rebounds (eight), assists (five), and tied with Langford in steals (two).
Michigan State ended the game up 13-10 on the offensive boards and with a 43-37 advantage on the glass overall. Langford was second on the team in scoring with 16 points, while Brown finished with 14 to round out the scorers in double figures. Marcus Bingham Jr. led the team in blocks with three, while the team finished with 10 total.
After Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 34 points on the Spartans in Bloomington, MSU held him to just nine points, and Jackson-Davis made just one field goal on nine attempts. Rob Phinisee led Indiana in scoring with 16 points.
The Spartans take on the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday in Ann Arbor to begin a back-to-back series that will finish the regular season against Michigan in East Lansing on Sunday. MSU needs to win both games to finish .500 in conference play.