The #4 Michigan State Spartans came into this sacred college basketball arena and improved their record on the season to 22-3, 10-2 Big Ten with a 63-60 triumph overthe Indiana Hoosiers. It was an old-school Big Ten fight from the tip-off.
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t dominant, but the Michigan State Spartans found a way to come into Assembly Hall and get the win. Even the stat sheet didn’t make sense. MSU held Indiana to 29% shooting while shooting 49% themselves. But they got slaughtered on the boards 53-29 including Indiana grabbing 25 offensive rebounds to three for the Spartans and IU had a 14-0 advantage with second-chance points.
Tom Izzo said of the contest, “I've had some incredible wins and disappointing losses over my career, and I've had a few wins that I didn't feel very good about. Sometimes we turn the ball over a zillion times, like at Michigan with 26 points off turnovers to our seven. That bothers you. Sometimes back in the day you'd shoot 20 percent from the field, and that bothers you. But very seldom does one of our teams get out-worked or out-hustled the way Indiana did it. The 25-3 difference on offensive rebounds is an insult to me, my players, and anybody who ever played here, I was very disappointed in that. To find a way to win on the road against a team that took Purdue right to the wire, took Duke right to the wire, and the place was hopping here tonight. I think that's an accomplishment. We had a 10-point lead most of the game but didn't do any of the little things we needed to do to go on and be a great team. This program has been built on heart and toughness, and tonight we weren't the tougher team. I'm going to try to take the blame for that myself, and maybe we'll get to bring the shoulder pads out again or something fun, have a little fun with our guys. I thought Cassius [Winston] played a pretty good second half; Nick [Ward] played a pretty good second half when we got him in there because of foul trouble, and [Matt] McQuaid was our star tonight. Other than that, we had a lot of guys that just existed out there, and I was disappointed.”
Freshman Jaren Jackson, Jr. (3J) single-handedly controlled the Hoosier when he was in the game. His seven blocks were impressive, but whenever he was in the contest he altered the Indiana offense.
Indiana Coach Archie Miller said of the play of Michigan State freshman sensation Jaren Jackson, Jr. (3J), “He's really good. I don't think he just emerged tonight and said look at me. He's been doing it all year. He's a dominant defensive player. He leads our conference in shot blocking. He had seven blocks himself tonight. And to be honest with you, one of the reasons we were able to hang in the game in the second half is I don't think he played as much because when he was out there it was very difficult on us in terms of around the basket.”
Miller added of 3J, “He just clears up every drive, every mistake that you make he's there. And we talked a lot about it before the game, though. We had a couple of stubborn guys there early in the game that tried to challenge him. And they have to be able to make those spray kick-out passes when he's running around. And when we did do a couple of those I thought we got a couple of easy ones. But he's very, very good.”
On the evening I already mentioned 3J’s seven blocks, but he also had ten points. Matt McQuaid had 12 key points to lead the way. He was the star of the game for the second straight tilt. Joshua Langford also had 10 points to round out the Spartan scorers in double digits.
In my humble opinion, the play of the night was by the Indiana Administration. They handed out cards to the crowd letting them know that the heinous crimes of Larry Nassar WERE NOT to be used in heckling the Spartans. I can tell you that is not something that would have happened very many places and it was all class. Izzo praised the Hoosier faithful for it.
Izzo said of the classy move by Indiana, “I'm probably going to sound a little bit like an IU fan but I do want to publicly thank IU. I want to thank their president, A.D., coach, players, fans, and students. Whatever they sent out was very classy and well done, and very much appreciated, handling themselves without some of the things that needed to be said. I take my hat off to them.”
The Spartans will return to action on Tuesday at Iowa. That game can be seen on ESPN and tips off at 9 PM. The Spartans have not faced Iowa yet this season.
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