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Preview: MSU women's basketball looking for first Big Ten win against No. 4 Indiana

December 29, 2022
<p>Then-senior forward Alisia Smith (4) dodges an Indiana defender as she jumps up to score during the first quarter. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament after defeating the Hoosiers 69-61 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Shot on Mar. 11, 2021.</p>

Then-senior forward Alisia Smith (4) dodges an Indiana defender as she jumps up to score during the first quarter. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament after defeating the Hoosiers 69-61 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Shot on Mar. 11, 2021.

Coming off a two-game win streak over Detroit Mercy and Prairie View, Michigan State women’s basketball (8-5, 0-2 Big Ten) faces one of its toughest opponents of the season in No. 4 Indiana (12-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at home on Thursday.

The Spartans have yet to win a conference game so far this season after falling to No. 3 Ohio State and Purdue earlier this month. Both matchups were decided by six points or less.

After a nine-day hiatus for the holiday break, MSU is up for a challenge as it returns to conference play. 

“Three of our five losses have been to top five teams and one has been to a top 15 team, so we've competed against that before,” Head Women's Basketball Coach Suzy Merchant said. “I think our kids are ready.”

For freshmen on the team like guard Theryn Hallock, it will be the first time they face the Hoosiers. Knocking off a top-five team will be tough, but Hallock said the Spartans are “mentally and physically prepared.”

“We've been practicing really hard going over their stuff and knowing what to do,” Hallock said. “I think it'll make us better. I mean, to come together as a team is really important. So we just keep our chemistry up and make sure that we're playing our hardest at all times. I know, obviously, no game is perfect, so we just got to go out with our game and do it our hardest.”

Sophomore forward Isaline Alexander said MSU is focusing on defensive strategies in preparation for the Hoosiers’ talented and productive offense.

“Definitely defending the arc,” Alexander said. “We know Indiana has a lot of good shooters, so being able to get a hand in their face and getting in their space so that they can get it off or at least to just make it a tougher shot.”

Despite their confidence, the Spartans will still be without one of its most valuable players on Thursday, junior guard Gabby Elliot, who is out for the season after suffering an ACL injury during the game with the Buckeyes.

Scouting the Hoosiers

Yet to lose a game this year, Indiana sits atop the Big Ten with Ohio State as the only remaining undefeated teams. 

The Hoosiers average 82.8 points per game while allowing 55.8. At the same time, the Spartans put up around 81.8 points per game and allow 57.6. Regarding field goal percentage, Indiana is .510 while MSU holds a .444.

Indiana is solid when it comes to hanging onto the ball – something MSU has struggled with this season. The Hoosiers are averaging only 12 turnovers per game, sitting first in the Big Ten and eleventh nationally. They also average 19.2 assists per game (third in the Big Ten).

Senior forward McKenzie Holmes leads IU with 19.9 points per game (second in the league) and 7.1 rebounds. Junior guard Sydney Parrish and freshman guard Yarden Garzon follow with 12.3 and 12.0 points respectively. 

Indiana won the last meeting between the two schools 76-58 on Feb. 12 in Bloomington. Thursday’s game is the only time the opponents will face off in the regular season. 

Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Breslin Center. Fans can catch the action on Ben Ten +.

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