EAST LANSING, Mich. – Another anemic offensive performance sent Indiana's NCAA Tournament hopes up in smoke.
Facing a must-win game against fellow bubble-dweller Michigan State at the Breslin Center on Tuesday, the Hoosiers shot just 33% from the field and 10% from 3-point range, and Spartans forward Aaron Henry poured in 18 second-half points to send Indiana to a 64-58 defeat, its fourth in a row.
Rob Phinisee led the Hoosiers (12-13, 7-11 Big Ten) with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, but no other IU player scored in double figures and Indiana went without a point for a crucial 2:48 period in the game's final minutes.
“We played hard, we didn't play well enough to win,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Michigan State has a reason why they won the game, they played very hard too. ... The last four minutes (the Spartans) were tough to defend in and around the basket. It was one of the most physical games we've seen.”
Miller insisted his team is not pressing as it sees its NCAA Tournament chances slipping away.
“No, not at all,” he said. “We're playing very good teams.”
Trailing 53-52, Indiana had a chance to take the lead with less than three minutes to go, but senior Al Durham air-balled an open 3-pointer and Henry made the biggest shot of the game on the other end, knocking in a 3 that bounced around the rim before falling.
Hoosiers forward Race Thompson coughed the ball up in the post on Indiana's next possession and Henry extended the lead to six with a long jumper. Michigan State eventually pushed its run to 8-0, by which time it led 61-52. Indiana did stop the spurt until Phinisee made an uncontested layup with 25 seconds to play.
Henry scored 12 consecutive Michigan State points in the final five minutes, turning a one-point Indiana lead into a nine-point deficit. His performance down the stretch echoed his dominance in a 78-71 win Spartans win in Bloomington on Feb. 20, when the Indianapolis native had 27 points.
“They were just going to him pretty much every time,” Phinisee said of Henry. “They had a lot of pin-downs and we didn't front the post the way we should have to deny him the ball.”
Indiana led by as many as five in the second half after Phinisee hit a 3-pointer to make it 38-33 with 12:46 to go. The junior guard went 2 for 8 from beyond the arc and the rest of the Hoosiers were 0 for 12.
The Spartans slowly closed the gap, but Indiana was able to hold the lead until Henry's finishing flurry thanks to a basket each from freshmen Khristian Lander, Jordan Geronimo and Trey Galloway in succession. All three gave Indiana the lead.
Jackson-Davis, who scored 34 points in the first meeting with Michigan State this season, was held to just nine on 1-for-5 shooting. It was the first time he failed to score in double figures this year.