Spartans can’t complete comeback, continue road struggles with loss to Indiana

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Cassius Winston/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Luke Sloan, Sports Director

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Despite overcoming an early 15-point deficit, No. 11 Michigan State lost its second consecutive game away from home on Thursday night, falling to Indiana 67-63 in the final seconds of the game at Assembly Hall.

With just under 10 seconds to play and the Spartans down two, Cassius Winston found some space as he drove to the rim, but his lob to Xavier Tillman wasn’t converted after being tipped by an Indiana defender.

The loss is the Spartans third straight against Indiana after being swept by the Hoosiers in 2018-19. Winston led Michigan State with 17 points, 13 of which were scored in the second half. The Spartans now look to regain their footing on the road when they take on Minnesota on Sunday.

“I didn’t come out to play and that hurt the team a lot,” Winston said. “We kind of dug ourselves a huge hole and it was hard to come back.”

Similar to the team’s last road contest against Purdue, Michigan State suffered a slow start, this time in front of a lively crowd at Indiana on Thursday. The Spartans found themselves down 25-10 with 9:07 remaining in the first half after the Hoosiers cruised to a 16-4 start to the game.

Winston, who scored just six points on 3-of-12 shooting against Wisconsin, didn’t notch his first points of the game until there was 7:47 remaining in the half. But his breakthrough sparked the Spartans, who went on a 10-0 run to force an Archie Miller timeout and slim the deficit to 27-24 with 4:44 to go.

The Hoosiers would bounce back and claim a 37-30 lead headed into the half after Aljami Durham nailed their first three of the game just before the buzzer.

Michigan State grabbed its first lead of the contest on a step-back three from Rocket Watts, capping an 8-0 run that put the visiting team on top 51-48 with 11:06 remaining in the second half.

The two teams would exchange the lead six times in the final eight minutes of the contest until Durham hit another crucial three at the end of the shot clock to give Indiana a 63-60 lead with 1:52 to go.

Michigan State would counter with a layup from Tillman, but Joey Brunk, who led the Hoosiers with 14 points, countered with a basket of his own to keep Indiana on top 65-62 as only a minute remained.

Winston was able to draw a foul on a drive to the basket, but he split a pair of free throws to hold the deficit at two points. The Spartans generated a turnover with 14 seconds to go, but Winston’s lob to Tillman wasn’t converted to all but seal the game.

“We just didn’t play good enough to win on the road,” head coach Tom Izzo said.

Michigan State now sits at 6-2 in Big Ten play, tied with Illinois atop the conference standings.

Aaron Henry was the Spartans second-leading scorer, posting 12 points. Gabe Brown pitched in 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting from deep while Tillman added nine points.

The Spartans turned the ball over 13 times on the night and lost the battle on the boards, giving up 10 offensive rebounds and allowing the Hoosiers to score 34 points in the paint to their 18.

Michigan State will now turn its attention to Minnesota for another road test on Sunday afternoon.

Contact Luke Sloan at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @LukeSloan_7.