BOZICH | Something Crean, Calipari Can Agree On -- Gary Harris - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Something Crean, Calipari Can Agree On -- Gary Harris

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Gary Harris scored 24 points as Michigan State beat Indiana Tuesday in East Lansing. Gary Harris scored 24 points as Michigan State beat Indiana Tuesday in East Lansing.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Tom Crean and John Calipari can't agree on scheduling a basketball game between Indiana and Kentucky, but they have to agree on this:

Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris, an Indiana native, is the biggest recruit who got away from the two friends in the Class of 2012.

Indiana visited the Breslin Center Tuesday night, and the Hoosiers played more like the team that beat Wisconsin by three than the one that lost to Northwestern by seven last week.

Not that it mattered much to Harris and third-ranked Michigan State. Harris stopped any idea of an upset by scoring 24 points, making four of six three-point shots and all four of his free throws, as the Spartans rallied for a 71-66 victory.

In four games against IU during his Michigan State career, Harris has scored 90 points and made 15 of 31 threes. Look for Gary Harris in an NBA arena near you next season. Harris had 20 points and three steals when Michigan State beat Kentucky, 78-74, last November in Chicago.

The Spartans outscored IU 30-20 over the final 10-1/2 minutes for the victory, their second against Indiana in 2-1/2 weeks. The loss moved IU to 12-7 overall and 2-4 in the Big Ten. It was an opportunity lost for IU because Michigan State was without its best inside player, Adreian Payne.

"We came together, there's no question about that," Crean said on his post-game radio show. "We were wounded in the sense we were coming off that tough game obviously (against Northwestern). This was a team-building, team-bonding experience that we fell just a little short on."

Indiana played the way Indiana has played in most of its defeats -- like a young team struggling for consistency on offense. The Hoosiers are at least one shooter shy of a full load. Maybe more. They're too careless with the basketball (18 turnovers). And freshman Noah Vonleh is the only guy who can score consistently around the rim.

Five Takeaways From the Defeat:

1. The Gary Harris Show – Crean wanted Gary Harris as much as any in-state player he has tried to recruit during his six seasons on the job. Harris, who played at Hamilton Southeastern High School in suburban Indianapolis, picked Tom Izzo and Michigan State over IU and Kentucky, which made a late, determined push for Harris.

As usual, Harris played his best basketball against the Hoosiers, making a string of clutch shots in the second half.

"Gary Harris is as good as any guard in the nation," Crean said. "He leads the country in steals. He had 24 points. He's phenomenal. We wouldn't have spent as much time recruiting him all those years if we didn't believe that. Gary's phenomenal."

One other Indiana native also hurt the Hoosiers -- forward Branden Dawson of Gary. Dawson had 13 points and nine boards.

2. Shuffling the Batting Order – Crean is still looking for a rotation that flows, including his starting lineup. An ankle injury pushed senior Will Sheehey to the bench in East Lansing. He did not play. Crean also moved Evan Gordon out of the lineup.

Austin Etherington and freshman Stanford Robinson filled their spots. Robinson makes things happen. He had nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Etherington hit a three-point shot, but turned the ball over four times.

IU shot only 43.5 percent from the field, even though the Hoosiers made four of 10 three-point shots.

"We've got to finish," Crean said. "It's a hard league to finish in because you're going to play through contact. You're playing against length and you're playing against great players.

"We took a couple of tough shots in there (when Michigan State went ahead). Some of that is youth. Some of it is not making one more pass."

3. The Return of Jeremy Hollowell – After three games on the bench, Hollowell was the second sub in the game for the Hoosiers. A starter for most of the season, Hollowell had not played since Indiana's last game against Michigan State in Bloomington Jan. 4. The only reason Crean gave for sitting Hollowell was a lack of focus.

He played 15 minutes Tuesday, scoring eight points with two turnovers.

4.  Mr. Double-Double – Noah Vonleh does not get the national recognition of several other freshmen, but he is the best first-year player in the Big Ten. Vonleh had 13 points and 13 boards, his eighth double-double this season, second in league play.

"Noah was ridiculously tough," Crean said.

5. The Big Ten Is An Unforgiving League -- A few minutes ago Wisconsin and Ohio State were unbeaten top 10 teams. Now the Badgers have lost two straight and Ohio State has lost four in a row for the first time in six seasons.

Up next for the Hoosiers is a Sunday game against Illinois in Bloomington. The Illini beat IU, 83-80, in overtime on New Year's Eve. Any path for IU to get back to .500 in the Big Ten this season includes a win against Illinois.

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