Indiana blew an early first half lead in East Lansing last night, losing the lead and all momentum by halftime. Michigan State ended the first half on a 22-7 run, entering halftime with a six point lead and an energized, emotional crowd.
Today’s game was the first game on campus since the tragic shooting in East Lansing last week. In case you missed Luke’s preview, he listed some places to donate to those affected by the tragedy, as compiled by MSU’s student paper.
Michigan State deserved something to cheer for and rally around, so once the Spartans started getting hot from 3-point range, it was clear that it was going to be an uphill battle for Indiana. The Hoosiers started their comeback a few times, but ultimately fell short before Mike Woodson went to his bench around the four minute mark in the second half.
Whether Woodson was sending a message to the starters or conceding the game down double digits, the final score will probably hurt Indiana worse in the computer rankings than it will on Selection Sunday. The Spartans are a tournament team and it was not a bad loss, all things considered.
Here’s Three Things:
Just a Game
There is no denying or ignoring the completely tragic circumstances of this game being played in the wake of a shooting that cost three lives and hospitalized five college students. Tom Izzo said it well when he speculated that it will take a long time for things to be “normal” around Michigan State again, if they ever return to normal at all.
For everyone involved, tonight appeared as an extremely emotional basketball game. Even as I sit here writing this article, hundreds of miles away on a completely different campus, it’s hard to find the words to describe what it means to be playing basketball after a tragedy of this magnitude.
To be completely honest, it was almost encouraging to see the Spartans playing with so much hustle and energy tonight, beating Indiana badly on rebounds, loose balls, and then hitting some absurd shots near the end of the shot clock.
It’s easy to see how such an event could derail a team, but the energy that Michigan State brought to last night’s game seemed to genuinely energize the Breslin Center. The Spartans were bringing joy to thousands of people who had just gone through the worst week of their young lives.
I never really like watching Indiana lose, but considering all that’s gone on in East Lansing of late I’m not gonna worked up over this one.
Indiana’s inability to get any consistent offense from TJD or JHS away from Assembly Hall has been troubling. Tamar Bates in particular struggled, turning it over and missing his only shot before being benched for the entire second half.
Miller Kopp got off to a promising start with six first half points, but didn’t score in the second half before he fouled out. In 24 minutes as a power forward, Race Thompson grabbed a single rebound.
Trey Galloway actually had a solid performance, scoring 11 points on three 3-pointers, propelling Indiana’s second-half comeback. Unfortunately, this was offset by another night of bad shot selection from Hood-Schifino, who at points appeared determined to take the longest 2-pointers possible on a basketball court.
Familiar as these problems are to Indiana fans, they are not alone in struggling on the road lately. Big Ten teams are just 6-26 on the road as a conference this month.
We saw a slew of players tonight who had yet to play meaningful Big Ten minutes in a road game this year, including eight minutes from Kaleb Banks and four from Anthony Leal. When Leal checked in, Indiana was down just 11 points around the four minute mark in the second half.
Despite being the time of the year when coaches typically shorten the bench, it’s clear that Mike Woodson had to make some changes with how this team has played on the road. I noticed at the Northwestern game how much individual coaching Banks in particular was getting from Yasir Rosemond, so this was a move that was a long time coming.
It’s an interesting move considering Woodson had one of his shortest benches of the season last game, which paid off in the form of big performances from his most experienced players. In addition to being a sign of Woodson’s willingness to make the necessary changes, it’s good to see that the younger guys are coming along in Woodson’s eyes.
Ultimately, Indiana is going to need some of these younger guys like C.J. Gunn and Kaleb Banks to grow up as soon as possible. Especially with the great unknown that is Xavier Johnson’s health.
Hopefully Indiana won’t have to rely on them too much as this season wraps up, but it’s always nice to see what Indiana has further down on the depth chart and imagine how these guys might develop in the future.