Saturday, December 4, 2021

Big Ten Tournament: MSU falls to Indiana in quarterfinal action

March 8, 2002
From left, freshman forward Aaron Alexander, junior forward Aloysius Anagonye and sophomore center Jason Andreas watch as the clock runs out on the Spartans, who lost 67-56 to Indiana on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. —

Indianapolis - The MSU men’s basketball team was drowned in a sea of cream and crimson Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse as it was knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 23 Indiana dunked MSU in front of a predominantly Hoosier crowd. Indiana never let the Spartans come up for air in the 67-56 routing.

Indiana head coach Mike Davis said it was like playing a home game.

“When we walked out and saw all this red we said, ‘This was a game we need to win,’” Davis said. “It would be very disappointing to lose this game when all those people came out and paid money.

“I wish we could play the Big Ten Tournament here every year.”

Junior forward Adam Ballinger said the Spartans can’t blame the crowd for their performance.

“It was effective, but that’s not something we can use as an excuse,” said Ballinger, who is from Bluffton, Ind. “We’ve won at away gyms before and we knew that this might be the same. That has nothing to do with the outcome of the game.”

Instead, the problem was that MSU (19-11 overall, 10-6) couldn’t match the intensity of Hoosiers (20-10, 11-5). The Spartans committed 21 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.

Sophomore guard Marcus Taylor said the first half was doomed from the first play, when Indiana guard Tom Coverdale stole the ball from freshman guard Kelvin Torbert.

“We didn’t come out with the intensity we needed in the first five minutes,” said Taylor, the game’s leading scorer with 20 points. “We picked it up in the second half, but it wasn’t enough in the end.”

With 4:20 left in the second, freshman swingman Alan Anderson rebounded freshman guard Chris Hill’s missed triple attempt. Anderson stepped over a fallen Hoosier before scoring on an open layup, cutting Indiana’s gap to 58-50 after MSU trailed by as many as 14 at one point.

But that’s as close as the Spartan’s would get.

Taylor struggled at times too. Taylor scored the first five points of the game but was silent until he scored four points in the opening of the second half to cut Indiana’s lead to 35-30.

The Hoosiers took their biggest lead with 10:24 left in the game when guard Donald Perry’s layup gave his team a 50-36 advantage.

MSU also struggled to guard Big Ten Player of the Year Jared Jeffries, who scored a team high 14 points while adding five rebounds.

“Pick your poison with IU,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “To double-team or not to double-team. Today we decided to help down on the block, and when we did our personnel did not get to their spots after helping, which led to six Indiana putbacks.”

The Hoosiers advance to the semi-finals Saturday at 1:45 p.m. where they will meet the winner of No. 1 seed Wisconsin (18-11, 11-5) vs. No. 9 seed Iowa (17-14, 5-11).

In the meantime, MSU will hold its breath until Sunday when the pairings in the NCAA Tournament are announced at 6 p.m.

Izzo said his team will have to get tougher if it wants to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

“We did not play well today,” he said. “I can’t hold back my disappointment at our physicalness. One team did, one team did not, and the team that did won.”

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