There’s something about Indiana that gets Gary Harris’ adrenaline flowing.
The sophomore guard torched the Hoosiers for the fourth time in his career, scoring 24 and leading the No. 3 MSU men’s basketball team to a 71-66 win against Indiana Tuesday night.
In the three other times the Spartans have faced off against Indiana with Harris on the floor, he’s scored 21, 19 and a career-high 26, respectively.
In two games against Indiana this season, he’s combined to score 50 points.
“I don’t know if it’s anything extra, it’s just a coincidence that I played some good games against (Indiana),” a smiling Harris said after the game. “Coach just tells me to be aggressive. I just go out and play my game.”
The Spartans were hampered under the basket for the fourth straight game as senior forward Adreian Payne did not dress because of a sore foot.
MSU got out to a typically slow start, letting the Hoosiers score the first five points of the game.
The first half saw nearly as many combined turnovers, 15, as made shots, 18, and there were a total of 21 fouls called.
The Spartans tried to come back, led by Dawson, who scored six points with under five minutes to play in the half, but they couldn’t get into a rhythm, and trailed by a point heading to the break.
“I just said at half time that we’re going to Gary Harris,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “I’m prejudiced, but I still think he’s the best player in the league. He’s a coach’s dream.”
After scoring just four points in the first half, Harris didn’t let Izzo down, and came out in the second half and hit his first three-pointer of the game to give MSU the lead back.
But it was quickly squandered.
The Spartans tried to take control of the game with a 5-0 run early in the second half, but an Indiana bucket and MSU turnover that led to an easy dunk ended any threat of a long-term run.
A 10-2 run for the Hoosiers gave them a five-point lead with eleven minutes remaining.
It took until the nine-minute mark for the Spartans to show any life, and it wasn’t Harris that gave the team spark.
Harris hit a three-pointer to tie the game, and Dawson and Valentine completed back-to-back three-point plays to finish off a 10-2 run to bring the lifeless Breslin crowd up to ramming speed.
The Spartans rolled from there, going on a 21-6 run over more than six minutes, and holding Indiana to just one field goal in that span.
The Spartans will welcome ESPN’s College GameDay to East Lansing when they host arch-rival Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Former Spartan football and basketball player Matt Trannon returned to East Lansing this week, and the first thing he told Izzo after watching practice was that they were getting soft.
“I’ve got to stick to what I do, but I can’t give anyone a day off practice,’ Izzo said. “I didn’t give a dead guy a day off practice before. They’re finding a way to win. Indiana outplayed us and we found a way to win.”