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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 04, 2018 12:30 am

A couple plays, here and there

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Well, I called it before the game: this matchup would be much closer than the one in East Lansing.

Juwan Morgan's comments after the game that Michigan State "punked" the Hoosiers on the glass the last time the two teams met is instructive. This team has a lot of pride, even if the results have not been there during this brutal stretch of games.

At some point, maybe this year, but maybe not until next season, the Hoosiers will win games likes these. They've come so close on numerous occasions this year that the dam can't help but break eventually. Saturday, the biggest plays of the game were probably Freddie McSwain's two missed free throws with Indiana trailing by one in the final minutes. McSwain will probably be thinking about those free throws for a while, which is more than a little unfair since Indiana would have been nowhere near the lead without him. Starting McSwain was one of the best decisions Miller has made all season as he rewarded the coach's faith with 16 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.

It's been obvious for a while that a game like this was coming for McSwain, who frequently plays with the most energy on the floor. He's played 54 minutes in the last two games and has become a full-time member of the rotation. If he's working under the boards consistently, it will be a boon to Morgan, who will have less of the load on his shoulders.

In a season like this, it's tough to take a hard-line stance against moral victories. Saturday would likely qualify as one of those, staying with the No. 5 team in the country for 39.5 minutes. At some point, however, those moral wins have to turn into actual wins. The way this team plays, they will eventually. Now the Hoosiers have to just guard against coming out flat against a downtrodden Rutgers team Monday. After that, the schedule opens up a bit, but there's one more obstacle in this team's way first.