When Gary Harris and Branden Dawson spurned Indiana — their home state — to attend MSU, it was probably the angriest Hoosier fans would ever be toward them.
The duo combined for 39 points to lead the Spartans past the Hoosiers, 73-56, to give MSU its second Big Ten win in as many games. The loss gives Indiana, the reigning regular season Big Ten champs, an 0-2 start in conference play.
MSU grabbed its first lead at 12-9 and never handed it back to the Hoosiers, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Spartans.
Harris started off his career day by knocking down a 3-pointer, one of 10 made by the Spartans, to jump to a 15-9 lead. He finished the game with a career-high 26 points.
The teams traded baskets throughout the middle of the first half, but Indiana started to chip away at the lead and got as close as 25-24.
Instead of letting the game get closem Harris and Dawson extended the lead, with a Dawson lay-up in the post followed by a Harris 3-pointer to put MSU up, 30-24.
The Spartans walked into halftime with a 33-24 lead, and rode that momentum to a 15-point lead to start the second half.
However, the delirious Indiana home crowd willed their team to a 7-0 run to create an eight point deficit, but just like the run made in the first half, MSU fought back with a layup by junior guard Travis Trice flanked with a 3-pointer by senior guard Keith Appling.
Appling, who didn’t score in the first half, exploded for 14 points in the second half to make him the team’s second-highest scorer.
With 8:17 left on the clock, the game officially turned into “The Gary Harris Show,” as he nailed an and-1 3-pointer to give MSU a 53-41 lead.
Indiana’s Stanford Robinson also was issued a technical foul after shoving Harris, giving Harris three free throws to shoot on the line. Harris converted on two, giving Indiana a 14-point deficit and a silenced crowd.
One of the biggest storylines of the game was if MSU could limit Indiana off the boards, who had the nation’s-best rebounding margin of plus-13.9. The Spartans conquered the glass and won the rebounding battle 34-32, including 10 offensive boards.
MSU will next be put to the test Tuesday, as they face No. 3 Ohio State at Breslin Center at 9 p.m.