East Lansing’s first top-five matchup didn’t go the way Spartan fans had hoped, and now MSU looks to pick up the pieces.
On Tuesday, the No. 4 MSU men’s basketball team (22-5 overall, 11-3 Big Ten) fell to No. 1 Indiana (24-3, 12-2), 72-68, before a capacity crowd at Breslin Center.
Before the game, The State News analyzed the matchups between two of the nation’s top starting five’s. Here’s how they fared.
Appling avoided foul trouble this time around, but wasn’t much better in his second meeting with the Hoosiers. The junior guard struggled, shooting 1-for-8, along with three misses at the free throw line, while Hulls drained four big 3-pointers as one of four Hoosiers to score in double figures.
Ferrell used his speed and athleticism to lead the early surge that helped Indiana take the lead quickly and maintain it throughout the first half. But Harris was big for the Spartans, leading MSU with 19 points despite shooting 1-for-5 from beyond the arc and missing three free throws.
The Spartans kept Oladipo in check for most of the night, but when the game was on the line, the National Player of the Year candidate rose to the occasion. Oladipo swung the game for Indiana, scoring a team-high 19 points along with nine reboundsand five steals, including six points in the game’s final minute. Dawson was somewhat quiet for MSU, scoring eight points with four rebounds.
Despite dealing with foul trouble, Payne was the Spartans’ best player Tuesday night, scoring 17 points, with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Watford made plays for the Hoosiers, scoring 12 points and making numerous key shots, but Payne was MSU’s catalyst, providing the energy others were sorely lacking.
After limiting Indiana’s star big man in the team’s first meeting this season, Zeller got his revenge against the Spartans Tuesday night. Although Nix made MSU’s final two baskets, first to give them the lead and then to extend it to three points, it ultimately was Zeller’snight. The sophomore converted a crucial 3-point play down the stretch, before finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.