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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 03, 2018 10:50 pm

Michigan State 63, Indiana 60: Quick thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it happened

The Hoosiers opened the game playing with tremendous energy, outworking the Spartans, one of the nation's best rebounding teams, on the glass. Indiana pulled down seven offensive rebounds in the first four minutes, and the score was tied at 5 at the first media timeout. 

After that, however, Indiana went ice cold from the field and missed 12 consecutive shots. The Hoosiers went without a field goal for more than nine minutes, allowing the Spartans to open a lead that reached as many as 11 at 18-7. 

The culprit in Indiana's poor shooting was the Michigan State defense, which allowed nothing easy down low. The Spartans blocked nine shots in the first half alone, almost all of them on layups near the basket. Jaren Jackson Jr., a freshman from Carmel, blocked six shots, frustrating Juwan Morgan under the rim.

Still, Indiana's energy never wavered, partly thanks to Freddie McSwain Jr., who refused to allow it to do so, and the offensive rebounding finally began to affect the game later in the half. The Hoosiers finished the half with a 15-1 advantage in offensive boards and scored six second-chance points. The deficit eventually shrunk to as few as three points before the Spartans opened the margin again and led 32-24 at the break. The 8-point lead was tiny, considering Michigan State shot 50 percent and Indiana was at 18 percent.

The teams traded baskets in the first portion of the second half, with Indiana slicing its deficit to as few as four a couple of times, but Michigan State responding each time. Morgan began to play more like himself during this stretch, however, scoring 10 points in the first eight minutes of the second session. The Spartans stayed comfortably in front with a run of seven straight made field goals near the midway point of the half.

The Spartans still led by a half-dozen with 5:47 to play, at 56-50. The Hoosiers had sliced the lead to just six when Devonte Green saw McSwain wide open rolling to the hoop and hit him with a perfect pass for a dunk. A timeout followed, during which the Assembly Hall crowd was the loudest it had been all night.

The Hoosiers kept getting closer behind Morgan. The junior forward was magnificent in the second half, and he made a layup with 4:06 left to make it 58-54, the closest Indiana had been all half. On the next possession, he got fouled going up and made both free throws to bring the margin to just two.

The advantage was just one for the Spartans when McSwain got to the free-throw line with under two minutes to go. He missed both free throws, however, and Matt McQuaid made a huge triple to extend the lead to four. Jackson got a huge block in the final seconds to seal the victory for Michigan State.

Player of the Game: Juwan Morgan

Even in defeat, Morgan was the best player on the floor in the second half. After Jackson Jr. bothered him on nearly every shot in the first 20 minutes, Morgan turned it on in the second half, scoring 19 points after halftime and totaling 23 as the focal point of Indiana's offense nearly every possession. It was his fourth 20-point game in the last five outings. He also grabbed 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Morgan had just two points the last time these teams met.

Tip-Ins

Indiana lost its fourth in a row for the first time since a five-game skid in February of 2017. ... The Hoosiers are now 1-6 against ranked teams this season. ... Michigan State shot 49 percent, while Indiana shot 28 percent. ... Jackson Jr. finished with seven blocks, a steal and added 10 points for the Spartans. ... Devonte Green, who scored a career-high 20 points against Ohio State, managed just seven against Michigan State, on 3 for 12 from the field. ... Freddie McSwain played a career-high 29 minutes, grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds. ... Indiana shot below 35 percent from beyond the arc for the seventh consecutive game, its longest such streak of the season. ... The Hoosiers finished with a 53-29 edge on the glass, against a Michigan State team that came in leading the nation in average rebounding margin. ... The Spartans had just two points fast-break points.

What's Next?

The Hoosiers have another quick turnaround, taking the court next in Piscataway, N.J. against Rutgers (12-12, 2-9). The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and is on the Big Ten Network. Rutgers has lost four in a row, including a 91-60 defeat at the hands of fellow Big Ten cellar-dweller Illinois.