INDIANAPOLIS – Michigan State's hot start against Maryland made it seem like their performance in the upset of then-No. 2 Michigan would carry over.
But it was just a flash in the pan, as MSU fell behind by four at the half and ultimately lost 68-57 to the Terrapins in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
Now, MSU has to wait for Selection Sunday after blowing a 12-point, first-half lead, accumulating 24 fouls and turning the ball over 18 times in a sloppy loss.
Fans might argue that it was the officiating. Others might argue that the Spartans had lost their steam following halftime. Even the green and white bench looked bored as loud boos could be heard across a moderately-filled Lucas Oil Stadium.
One thing was certain postgame. Tom Izzo was not happy.
“I solely pray that every alum out there looks at this game and doesn't say one thing to a player, just blames me," Izzo said after the loss. "I let the officiating get to me in the first half. 26 years in this job, that should never happen. It's totally my fault. ... I did a poor job, and a coach has to be able to admit that."
Malik Hall, who tallied 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, led the Spartans. In the second half alone, he posted 14 points, which was supported by two layups, a free throw, a dunk and a 3-pointer over a span of two minutes and 30 seconds in the final 10 minutes of play.
Behind him was junior forward Aaron Henry with 12 points, who shot 5-of-12 from the field and 1-for-4 from behind the arc and from the line. This wasn’t the Henry fans are used to — even though he was the first to score points for the Spartans, Izzo was forced to yank him off the court to cool down after he got his 4th foul in the second half.
When Henry talked to the media postgame, he was visibly angry. Defeated, too.
“How we lost (is one of the most disappointing things today),” he said. "It's not like us."
The duo, who were also a part of the starting five, put up a combined 13 rebounds and three assists.
“I’m honestly not sure what we’re supposed to do now,” Hall said. “Lots of ... reflection, making sure we’re ready for anything that happens.”
Of the few bright spots was forward/center Marcus Bingham Jr.'s play. The junior scored seven points and played 15 minutes in the loss. Bingham came out of the gate on fire: A dunk within seven seconds of being on the court then a layup to push the Spartans' lead to 11 with 13:49 to go in the first half.
Rocket Watts added three points, four rebounds and four assists to the final sheet.
Like Izzo said postgame, there were plenty of struggles where MSU needed guys to step up. Joey Hauser and the Spartan bench only scored 19 points altogether after MSU got 41 points from their reserves in the win over Michigan.
Maryland guard Eric Ayala led the way for the Terrapins, coming out with a total of 21 points and going 5-for-15 from the field. He was backed up by fellow Terrapin guard Aaron Wiggins, who laid out 19 points himself. No other Terrapin scored in double figures.
The Spartans will most likely be remaining in Indianapolis until Selection Sunday to keep the safety of the bubble intact. Selection Sunday for NCAA Division I men’s basketball this year will be aired on CBS at 6 p.m. EST.
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