EAST LANSING, Mich. – Not even the College Gameday crew could see this one coming.
In front of a packed crowd at the Breslin Center and in the national spotlight on ESPN, No. 6 Michigan State (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) fell in overtime, 79-75 to Indiana (13-9, 4-7 Big Ten).
Coming in, Indiana had lost seven straight games and to most did not look like a challenge for the Spartans who after losing away at Purdue had nearly a week to prepare, but the Hoosiers came to play and completely outworked Michigan State.
“We get pegged as a physical team because we used to be one, we’re not a very physical team right now and tonight we got out-physicaled,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.
“They got every loose ball, they got all the rebounds they banged us around inside, but I thought the consistency (of foul calls) was terrible, but hard to complain when the coaching, I didn’t do my job so I’ll just stick with I didn’t do my job.”
The Hoosiers came in with a great gameplan, dropping multiple players back to prevent the Spartans from pushing the ball in transition. Michigan State had just six fast-break points at halftime and ended with 14 in the game. They were ready for a fight and battled on the glass, out-rebounding the Spartans 26-12 in the first half and 48-40 in the game. They also pulled down 13 offensive rebounds in that first half.
“The most disappointing thing was our rebounding,” said Izzo. “I’ve been telling you that we have not rebounded the ball very well as far as defensively and another team gets 20 offensive boards against us and the effort of that we just don’t have enough bodies to keep putting people in because I’d be pulling some people.”
It was clear from the opening minutes that the Spartans just didn’t look right, as a team they went 7-of-20 on their first 20 shots and were shooting 1-of-5 from 3-point range. Indiana rode their defense to a 13-9 lead at the second media timeout of the game, nine minutes into the first half.
While the Hoosiers missed their next nine shots following the timeout, MSU went on a 7-0 run beginning with a Cassius Winston 3-pointer. The shot gave Winston some much needed confidence in the half as he finished with 10 of his game-high 26 points in the game to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. The run pushed MSU out to their first lead since the early minutes of the half, 16-13 with 8:49 left in the half.
The Hoosiers battled back and kept it close only down 31-28 at the half.
They did this all without star forward Juwan Morgan, who exited the game around the five minute mark with an apparent left shoulder injury.
Indiana’s leading scorer at 17.4 points a game, freshman guard Romeo Langford was also held in check. He had just six points in the half on 2-of-9 shooting, but would turn it around in the second half and overtime, finishing with 19 points shooting 6-of-18 from the field.
At that point with just a slim lead it was clear to even Michigan State players that something wasn’t right.
“When we’re up three at home at halftime, that’s when I knew something was a problem it just felt closer than it should have been,” said Michigan State freshman guard Aaron Henry. “Don’t get me wrong, Indiana is a good team, great players, I know a lot of them, but when we’re at the Breslin Center, Michigan State’s playing another team and we’re up three at halftime it’s an issue.”
The Hoosiers never went away, they just kept knocking on the door like a younger sibling does to an older one. Every time MSU looked to go out on a run, Indiana was there with a timely basket.
Hoosier guards Al Durham and Devonte Green were a big lift in the second, as they each chipped in eight points. Durham even hit one of the four straight 3-pointers for Indiana that propelled them to a 62-60 lead with 4:13 left in the second half. Durham finished with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Green had 11 points on 4-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 3-pointers.
Those 3-pointers and a big missed free throw from Spartan junior forward Nick Ward proved to be the difference as the Hoosiers were able to hold on and force the game to overtime tied at 66.
Ward was not the only Spartan to have a poor performance from the line either, as a team Michigan State went 6-of-16 from the line in the second half and 8-of-22 in the game.
“We addressed it all year, shot free throws at night, shot free throws early in the morning, we’re shooting 77 percent and sometimes when it rains it pours,” said Izzo. “We make any free throws early or we don’t give up 13 offensive rebounds in the first half maybe we’re up ten, so you know we got what we deserved free throw shooting I can’t say we deserved that, the effort rebounding I think we deserved that.”
The fight continued into the overtime as both teams went back and forth until Durham hit two free throws with 2:53 left to give Indiana a three-point lead, 73-70.
Michigan State whittled the lead down to one behind multiple clutch plays from Winston who played a total of 44 minutes and had five points in the overtime period, but it was not enough as he missed two last-second shots to win the game.
The Spartans, now on a two-game losing streak will look to bounce back in their next game at Illinois on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on ESPN2.