Spartans embarrassed on the boards, hang on at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.–The No. 5 Michigan State men’s basketball team traveled to Assembly Hall on Saturday night to face off in a Big Ten matchup against Indiana. The Spartans would hang on to win by a score of 63-60 over the Hoosiers, making this their sixth straight win and improving to 10-2 in the Big Ten.

“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,” Tom Izzo said in the postgame press conference.

It was an absolute block party for the Spartans, as they had more blocks (nine) than Indiana did field goals (six) in the first half. The Spartans’ defense as a whole was impressive in the first half as they did not allow a field goal to the Indiana offense in nearly 10 minutes, cruising to a 32-24 lead going into halftime.

The Hoosiers came back out in the second half ready to play, outscoring the Spartans 13-8 to open up the half. Indana upped their field goal percentage to 40 percent and brought in 24 more rebounds. It went down to the wire as Indiana drew within one point of Michigan State off of a free throw from Indiana forward Juwan Morgan, making the score 58-57 with just over two minutes left.

After guard Cassius Winston drove under the basket, he found an open Matt McQuaid, who hit his fourth three-point shot of the game to put the Spartans up by four with just over a minute left in the game. Next, Winston drew a foul to earn a trip to the line. Winston nailed both of his free-throw attempts to widen the Spartans’ lead to six with just nine seconds left in the game.

Indiana was not done yet as guard Devonte Green sank a layup while drawing a foul, making the score 63-60 after nailing his free throw attempt. However, it was too little too late for the Hoosiers, as the Spartans would hang on to win the game 63-60.

Even with the Hoosiers shooting just 28.8 percent from the field, they ended up only trailing by three points in the game. This was primarily due to the the Spartans’ inability to keep up with the Hoosiers in the rebound department.  Michigan State was out-rebounded 53-29 by Indiana. Michigan State let up 25 offensive rebounds while they only brought in three.

“Very seldom does one of our teams get out-worked or out-hustled the way Indiana did it,” Izzo said. “The 25-3 difference in offensive rebounds is an insult to me, my players, and anybody who ever played here.”

McQuaid, who had a huge game for the Spartans, was also displeased with his team’s rebounding efforts.

“The 25-3 on the offensive rebounds is unacceptable. McQuaid said. “That’s not what we stand for. We’ve got to fix that as soon as we get back tonight.”

McQuaid had maybe the most important game of his collegiate career, nailing four of his five three-point attempts and leading the Spartans with 12 points, the most he’s had since scoring 14 against Savannah State on Dec. 31.

“I’m just trying to play as good as I can, every night,” McQuaid said.

Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. put on a show playing in his home state for the first time in his collegiate career. Jackson put up 10 points, three rebounds and seven blocks, six of them in the first half.

The only other Spartan to get into double-digits in the points column was guard Joshua Langford, who notched 10 points along with three rebounds.

“We’re a talented team, so we snuck out of this one.” Winston said.  “But going down the road, if we don’t match that energy and that intensity, it can hurt us.”

With the Spartans’ win, they now move to 22-3 overall and 10-2 in the Big Ten. Looking forward, the Spartans will take on a struggling Iowa team at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern.

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