Know Thy Enemy is a weekly Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State basketball's opponent.
Michigan State men's basketball will begin the back-end of their schedule, which is loaded with away games, at Indiana on Jan. 23. Indiana swept the Spartans last season and MSU has struggled with a 15-46 all-time record at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers enter Thursday's matchup with the same record overall as the Spartans at 14-4. IU excels at getting to the free throw line, averaging 26.1 attempts per game and will look to take advantage of these opportunities in a chance to upset No. 11 Michigan State.
This week, The State News, spoke with The Indiana Daily Student'smen's basketball beat reporter Phillip Steinmetz to get an insider's perspective on how he thinks the match-up will play out in Bloomington.
Q: No matter who it is, teams playing away from home in the Big Ten this season have struggled to pull out any wins, including MSU who most recently got blown out at Purdue. What kind of advantages does Indiana have on their home court? What are some differences in Indiana’s game play at home versus on the road?
A: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall might be one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. IU lost to Arkansas at home but did defeat a pair of ranked teams in Florida State and Ohio State by double-digits. The Hoosiers usually play with much more energy at home due to the crowd. It'll be the first game back for students, so expect Assembly Hall to be extremely loud for this type of game.
Q: Last season the Hoosiers swept MSU, with then-freshman Rob Phinisee putting up some solid defense against MSU go-to Cassius Winston. Do you think we will see another Phinisee vs. Winston match-up come Thursday? If not, what will be the Hoosiers strategy against Winston as he is a main factor in each of MSU’s victories?
A: It's difficult to imagine someone else defending Winston when Phinisee is on the court. Winston still put up a pair of great games against IU but Phinisee did sort of slow him down as best as he could. It wouldn't surprise me if Winston scored 20+ points with 10+ assists, he's that good. Phinisee is IU's best defender on the perimeter but it might be a defending by committee type of deal with throwing different looks at him.
Q: Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is a positive for Indiana on both sides of the court, recording six double-doubles so far this season. What kind of challenges will he bring against Michigan State on Thursday? What are his main strengths?
A: Jackson-Davis has no question been IU's best player this season. The Hoosiers are difficult to defeat when they get him going early and often. He has a soft touch around the basket and runs the floor really well for a big man. Michigan State has a better chance to limit him in the half-court because sometimes IU forgets to consistently run the offense through him.
Q: Who else should the Spartans look out for? Who has proved themselves on Indiana’s roster so far this season?
A: Outside of Jackson-Davis, there hasn't been really anyone IU has been able to rely on night in and night out. Devonte Green will be the one to watch off the bench due to his scoring ability. If he's having a good night, IU is much better. Justin Smith had one of the best performances of his career the last time Michigan State traveled to Bloomington, so it wouldn't be surprising if he had a big game.
A: IU 65 Michigan State 60. I think IU does enough late to pull off the upset. Assembly Hall will be rocking and the Hoosiers have been difficult to defeat at home. IU will need Devonte Green to have an efficient scoring performance off the bench and to score quite a bit of points from the free-throw line. It's easy to see Michigan State just blowing IU out due to Winston being probably the best player in the country but the Big Ten has been unforgivable on the road.
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