BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- On a day where three teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25--No. 4 Duke, No. 7 Kansas and No. 21 Kentucky--all fell to unranked opponents, the fifth-ranked men’s basketball team was able to come out of the Hoosiers’ gym unscathed.
No. 5 MSU (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) swept its season series with Indiana (12-12, 5-7 Big Ten) on Saturday, beating the Hoosiers, 63-60, in front of a sold out crowd at Assembly Hall.
The Spartans repeated their stout defensive effort against the Hoosiers in the two teams first meeting back on Jan. 19, in which they held Indiana to a season-low 33.9 percent field goal percentage, by limiting the Hoosiers to a 29 percent overall shooting percentage on Saturday.
"To find a way to win on the road against a team that took Purdue right to the wire, took Duke right to the wire, the place was hopping here tonight, I think is an accomplishment," head coach Tom Izzo said in his postgame press conference.
After Indiana junior guard Zach McRoberts connected on a 3-pointer a little less than two minutes in to the ball game to score the first points of the contest for either team, MSU went on to take complete control of the first half.
Sophomore wing Miles Bridges matched McRoberts’ opening basket, knocking down a 3-pointer of his own about 30 seconds later, and after freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. flushed a dunk on the Spartans’ next possession to give the team a 5-3 advantage, MSU never relinquished the lead from that point on.
MSU was able to stay in front of Indiana in the early going despite the Hoosiers’ early work on the offensive glass. The Hoosiers grabbed nine offensive rebounds within the first nine minutes and out-rebounded the Spartans’ 28-16 in the first half.
Indiana won the offensive rebounding advantage against MSU, 25-3, and Izzo voiced his displeasure with that statistic.
"Very seldom does one of our teams get out-worked and out-hustled the way Indiana did," Izzo said. "The 25-3 offensive rebounds is an insult to me and my players and anybody who ever played here."
While Indiana won the battle of the boards in the first period, MSU won the battle of the bench, as junior guard Matt McQuaid scored nine points before halftime, all of them coming from behind the 3-point line. McQuaid put in 12 total points on Saturday, the most he’s had in a game since a New Year's Eve win against Savannah State, in which he scored the same amount.
With the help of Jackson’s six first half blocks, MSU was able to hold Indiana to a 17 percent field goal percentage for the half and take an eight-point advantage into the intermission.
The Hoosiers remained within striking distance of the Spartans for much of the second half and came to within two points of MSU with a little over three minutes left in the game.
Indiana was able to capitalize off of an MSU scoring drought of over three minutes down the stretch to cut the Spartans’ lead down to just one with a little over two minutes left, but a 3-pointer by McQuaid with 1:09 remaining made the score 61-57 and promptly slammed the door on the Hoosiers’ comeback attempt.
McQuaid led the Spartans in scoring with 12 points, followed by Bridges and sophomore guard Joshua Langford dropping in 10 points a piece. Indiana junior forward Juwan Morgan led all scorers with 23 points.
MSU will hit the road again on Tuesday to get its first look at Iowa (12-13, 3-9) this season. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.
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