Thoughts on an 82-69 win against the Spartans:
Unlike the Illini or Badgers, the Spartans brought high intensity to this one for 40 minutes. As a result, Indiana would get no rest or reprieve this afternoon in a chippy affair. If the Hoosiers failed to match the hard-nosed style of Michigan State, had too many lulls or lapses, a home loss could have easily gone on the ledger.
But to Indiana’s credit, it not only matched Michigan State’s drive. In many ways this afternoon, the Hoosiers surpassed it. This was a total team win with nearly every player who played significant minutes contributing positively to the outcome. Indiana was connected and determined. The Hoosiers were also smiling and having fun.
“These last three games, man, everybody that’s played has played a major, major role in us winning,” Mike Woodson said post-game.
Michigan State knocked Indiana back at the start of the first half. IU trailed 17-8 at the 14:06 mark, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying or silly mistakes. The Spartans did a nice job defending and contesting shots, especially against Trayce Jackson-Davis, to start the contest. But Indiana simply stuck with it and things started to open up. When the dust settled on an entertaining first half, the Hoosiers led by five (37-32), outscoring the Spartans 29-15 to close out the first 20 minutes of action.
Jackson-Davis started to fight through in the post to match MSU’s physicality more for scores. He also dunked one home in transition, perhaps the highlight of the year so far for the Hoosiers. Jackson-Davis kept it going in the second half, slamming home alley-oops and dunking over Jaxon Kohler with authority. Indiana’s All-American also defended the rim well without fouling. His final line was another jaw-dropper in a stretch filled with them: 31 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
“There’s nothing the guy can’t do on the basketball floor,” Woodson said after the game. “… He’s a beautiful player to watch. I’m just glad he’s on our ball club.”
But it wasn’t just Jackson-Davis today. Guys stepped up around him to help keep the Spartans at bay. Trey Galloway (17 points) dropped 3-of-3 from deep. Tamar Bates (17 points) was on a heat check in this one, making 5-of-6 from 3-point range himself. Some of these 3-pointers came when Michigan State sent extra help to Jackson-Davis, which helped the Hoosiers offer a pick-your-poison choice to the Spartans’ defense as the game went along. Overall the Hoosiers dropped in 60 percent (9-of-15) from deep.
And in a game that became foul-prone in the second half (both Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo fouled out), Indiana excelled at the line (21-of-24, 87.5 percent). Jackson-Davis led the charge there, hitting 11-of-13.
Indiana’s defense wasn’t as suffocating today, but it was still light years better than against Northwestern and Penn State, as Michigan State scored 1.02 points per possession. In a game Indiana scored 1.22 itself, it was more than enough to get the job done.
Indiana has now strung together a three-game winning streak when all seemed lost. Jackson-Davis is looking unstoppable and more healthy. Race Thompson made a surprise return to the court. The defense has found itself again. From the starters to the bench, Indiana is getting great effort and play.
“They’re not quitters,” Woodson said. “I’ve been a part of teams that just shut it down and say ‘I’m done.’ These guys, they’re playing for something.”
Filed to: Michigan State Spartans