IU Throttled By Michigan State In East Lansing
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Unwanted reality came swiftly to Indiana.
No. 9-ranked Michigan State saw to that.
The Spartans played like the No. 1 team they were a few weeks earlier with their 85-57 victory Friday night at the Breslin Center.
"Michigan State is a terrific team," IU coach Archie Miller told Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer during his post-game radio show.
"The last couple of games maybe they didn't play quite as well, but that doesn't change who they are and what they're about. They got back to really pushing the ball. We got out-played in transition."
IU's opening of a rugged seven-games-in-18-days stretch was a lesson in Big Ten ferocity. The Spartans (17-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big Ten) had it. The Hoosiers (11-8, 4-3) didn't have enough of it, and paid the price.
Miller came in preaching transition defense. The last thing he wanted to see was Michigan State running the court at will.
He saw far too much of it.
"They were very motivated to push the ball, and run the floor," Miller said. "We couldn't sustain it in terms of getting back."
The result – Michigan State won the rebound battle, 45-27, while shooting 54.2 percent from the field.
Adding to the problem – Michigan State's dominant defense held IU to just 33.9 percent shooting.
"You've got to make some shots," Miller told Fischer. "Offensively, you can't be inept for five to six minutes and go scoreless and scoreless."
Robert Johnson was the only Hoosier to bring his offensive "A" game to Michigan State. He totaled a team-leading 21 points, plus added seven rebounds.
Michigan State had five players score in double figures, led by Miles Bridges' 22 points.
"They had an approach with their physicality," Miller said. "They were clearly the more aggressive and prepared team. They played with great energy."
The Spartans had spent the previous six days focused on themselves while seeking to break out of their three-game funk (two losses and an overtime win over Rutgers). Adding to their intensity was a home-court loss to in-state rival Michigan.
Preparation included bringing in former Major League baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez for a pre-game speech.
The Hoosiers countered with the confidence of a three-game winning streak and a sense they were finally growing into Miller's feisty image. They were defending better, playing tougher. Guard play had elevated. Rebounding, even without out-for-the-season De'Ron Davis, had thrived.
And then it changed.
Michigan State pushed to run. IU aimed to contain.
For about five minutes, it worked.
The Hoosiers led 10-9 and looked ready for more.
Then the Spartans unleashed a 18-0 run Hoosier guard Devonte Green finally ended with a basket.
Michigan State kept running and scoring. Bridges was the catalyst. He hit his first five shots, including three from three-point range. The Spartan lead swelled to 23 points.
By halftime, Michigan State led 42-23.
The second half was more of the same.
Three minutes in and the Spartans led 50-25.
IU's offense went into the deep freeze, and never really warmed up.
The good news – the Hoosiers have a chance for a bounce-back victory with Maryland coming to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Monday.
"We have to have an opportunity on Monday at home," Miller told Fischer. "That's what our guys have to be locked in on.
"We'll be back to business (on Saturday), back to business on Sunday, and then face a very good Maryland team. We'll need all hands on deck."