LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — If the Indiana University men’s basketball team misses the NCAA Tournament (again), circle the Hoosiers’ 78-71 loss to Michigan State as reason No. 1.
On a day when Indiana surged to an 13-point lead in the first half, the Hoosiers melted down in the second half with more miserable guard play and lost to the Spartans.
"It's a hard one to take," IU coach Archie Miler said.
How badly did Indiana’s guards struggle?
Five of them — Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, Khristian Lander, Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal — played a combined 86 minutes without making a field goal. They missed all 14 of their attempts.
Even 34 points and 9 rebounds for IU center Trayce Jackson-Davis were not enough to overcome that.
Here’s another stinging thought for Archie Miller’s team: Michigan State’s top scorer with 27 points was Aaron Henry, an Indianapolis kid.
Henry turned down an offer to play for Miller and the Hoosiers after IU offered a scholarship to Damezi Anderson in 2018. Anderson transferred to Loyola (Chicago) after two uneven seasons. Henry has become one of the top players in the Big Ten.
"We didn't have a really good matchup for him," Miller said. "He jumped over us."
Better not forget the defense. Michigan State scored 26 points in the first half, 52 in the second. The Spartans scored only 58 in an entire home game last Saturday against Iowa, an ordinary defensive team.
"I really look at the second half to be a complete bust on defense," Miller said.
The erratic Hoosiers (12-10, 7-8) are swimming in that large pack of teams that need to collect every available credential to earn one of the 37 at-large invitations to the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They have failed to win more than two straight games all season.
Losing to a Michigan State team that is unlikely to make the NCAA field will be a mark against their credentials. Until Saturday, Michigan State’s only conference road win was against Nebraska.
For the first eight minutes, Indiana played defense as well as the Hoosiers have defended in weeks. Michigan State turned the ball over on four of it first five possessions and scored only 2 of the first 14 times the Spartans had the ball.
That changed. Michigan State’s improved efficiency enabled the Spartans to erase an 11-point IU lead and tie the game at 26. Indiana’s inability to make 3-point shots — 1 of its first 9 — also contributed.
The Hoosiers have four games on their regular season schedule, starting with a trip to Rutgers on Wednesday.
The Big Ten office rebooked IU’s trip to Michigan State for March 2. It appears the league will not reschedule Indiana’s game at Michigan, which was canceled last month. The Wolverines will play Saturday in Bloomington.
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