|MSU falls to IU, 70-55 (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)|
Tonight the Michigan State Spartans doubted their own ability for the first time this year. The Indiana Hoosiers gave MSU their first loss by double digits since November 11th, 70-55. MSU become the 3rd top 5 team to lose in Bloomington this season. Michigan State knew they were in for a battle playing at Assembly Hall. There was a lot at stake for both teams. For Michigan State the game had the most meaning in that if they had won it would have clinched the B1G regular season championship outright and potentially locked up a #1 seed.
Draymond Green carried the team as much as he could all game long. Green essentially put a stamp on the B1G Player of the Year award in this loss scoring 28 points and grabbing 8 boards. The depth and contributions that everyone has come to expect from the Spartans supporting cast was non-existent. Not a single Spartan beside Green scored in double figures. The Hoosiers had 5 players score in double figures, lead by Cody Zeller who poured in 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting. The poor shooting from the field (39%) and from the free throw line (10 of 17) caused the Spartans to face an uphill battle all game long. They could not get over the hump as they traded baskets with the Hoosiers when they tried to mount a come back in the 2nd half when they got the lead down to 6.
Keith Appling who torched Indiana in East Lansing back in January put in a pathetic performance. Scoring 6 points on six shots in 32 minutes. This is unacceptable for a player of his talent. Appling may be getting caught up in trying to be a perfect distributing point guard when he really should be accepting his role as a team leader who must guide this Spartans team in adverse situations. That starts with aggressiveness on the offensive end during bad spots in games. His play should compliment Green's inside presence. Appling has yet to learn to drive to the basket consistently and get to the line the way Kalin Lucas used to do when MSU needed points in close games. It is almost tournament time and his inconsistent play is starting to become a concern.
Adreian Payne was ineffective in limited minutes, scoring 2 points. Derrick Nix seemed to lose his confidence in the first half when he missed shot after shot from close range, finished 2 of 7 for 5 points. Branden Dawson seemed to let his poor defensive play against Victor Oladipo, effect his offense where he was less aggressive going 1 of 3 from the field for 3 points total. When the inside play of Payne, Nix and Dawson is inefficient the shooting percentages suffers which leads to lower scoring outputs as the Spartans who average 73 points a game could only muster 55.
The game was essentially lost in the first half when the Spartans could not respond in one of the rowdiest environments they've played in all year. Indiana did not play particularly special in the first half. It was Michigan State who missed buckets from close range, turned the ball over and committed bad defense fouls. Credit Indiana for coming out strong against the Spartans to built a 14 point lead at half that eventually lead them to a 15 point victory.
Spartan Coach Tom Izzo put it best after the game. "We didn't defend them, we didn't rebound, we didn't execute," Izzo said after losing to IU head coach Tom Crean, his ex-assistant, for the first time in seven games. "I think Indiana deserves a lot of credit for putting us in that position. They did a great job of moving the ball and just driving at us, and we didn't respond very well."
Now the pressure builds as Sunday approaches. Ohio State comes to the Breslin Center looking for revenge, redemption and their reputation back. If there was ever a time to get over loss fast look no further then this Sunday in East Lansing. It will be Senior Day at the Breslin Center for Draymond Green and Austin Thornton. Should the Spartans deliver they will have gained all the ground they lost tonight for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. On the flip side, a loss would give them a split B1G championship AND plenty of 'doubt' going in to the B1G tournament.
Big Ten Conference Standings
|TEAM||CONF W-L||TOTAL W-L|
|#5 Michigan State||13-4||24-6|
|#11 Ohio State||11-5||23-6|