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Michigan State 103, Indiana 74.

I, for one, welcome our new Spartan overlords. As my preview indicated, I approached yesterday's game with restrained optimism. While I thought it more likely than not that MSU would win, I really expected IU to compete with this something-is-missing version of the Spartans. Instead, MSU played extremely well and IU rolled over, and MSU handed IU its most lopsided loss in the history of the series (previous worst: the eventual NCAA champion Spartans defeated the eventual NIT champion Hoosiers 82-58 in East Lansing in 1979). By my rough count, IU has now played a total of 1393 games against Big Ten opponents. Yesterday's game was only the 30th time that a Big Ten opponent had scored 100 or more points against IU. Of those 30 games, 25 were played between 1957 and 1971, the "Hurryin' Hoosiers" era of Branch McCracken and Lou Watson. Yesterday was only the 6th time since Bob Knight's arrival in 1971 that a Big Ten opponent has scored 100 or more points against IU.
After yesterday's game, it's fair for IU fans to question whether this season that began with such promise has any chance of extending to the second week of the NCAA Tournament. While it's unfair to blame Dakich, in the three games since Sampson's ouster IU basely beat Northwestern and Ohio State and lost quite badly to MSU. As well as MSU shot, the Spartans probably would have won no matter what. But IU's NBA All-Star Game-caliber defense turned a loss into a humiliation. I try not to get in to intangibles "hindpsychology," so please understand that I'm not accusing the players of quitting. But yesterday's game had the feel, from a fan's perspective of the late-Knight-era NCAA beatdowns at the hands of Colorado (1997) and Pepperdine (2000).
As for the game (box score), there's not much to say. This was a fast game, 71 possessions per. IU's offensive numbers were roughly average. Defensively, IU's 1.44 points allowed per possession was the worst total of the season by far. Entering this game, IU had not allowed an effective field goal percentage of more than 58.8. MSU was at 71 yesterday. The Hoosiers shot well in the second half, 53 percent, and managed to pull within 17 points at the 10:36 mark, but a turnover and a mini-run by MSU ended any hope of a Kentucky-LSU type comeback. Certainly, it wasn't enough to offsets MSU's 75 percent shooting in the first half. IU actually did hold MSU to ten percentage points below its season offensive rebounding percentage, but MSU missed too few shots for that to matter. As for the individuals:
  • Eric Gordon was respectable: 22 points on 7-14 anf 7-9, only 2 turnovers.
  • Armon Bassett scored 13 points on 12 shots.
  • Jordan Crawford scored 12 points on 8 shots.
  • DJ White had a rough day: another double-double, but 5-13 from the field for 12 points.
  • Everyone, everyone, everyone played poor defense.

Dan Dakich has a tough task. IU's schedule now eases up, with the home finale against Minnesota and a road trip to Penn State. Still, considering IU's performances at Northwestern and at home against Ohio State, losses are not out of the question. A similar defensive effort in either game could spell IU's demise.