Indiana should leave the Breslin Center happy with its performance, even in a loss, to No. 3 Michigan State. And it should hope that Gary Harris sticks with general opinion and makes this his last season in college. Harris, a Hamilton Southeastern alum and erstwhile Indiana recruit, scored 20 second-half points to pace the Spartans (18-1, 7-0 Big Ten) in a 71-66 win and a season sweep of IU. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh posted his second-consecutive double-double for the Hoosiers (12-7, 2-4), with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Indiana needed Tuesday's game at Michigan State to look like a dogfight, and it did. The teams combined for 32 turnovers and 45 fouls. The game's stop-and-start nature often quieted Michigan State's famous student section, and the visitors handled a typically electric environment well when the crowd got rowdy. But Indiana manufactured its own mistakes too often to squeeze out an unexpected victory. Eighteen turnovers, many of them on poor or ill-advised passes, led to 15 Michigan State points. The Hoosiers missed nine layups in the second half, leading to a field-goal drought that effectively handed the Spartans control of the game. Indiana played much better than it had three days earlier in its ugly home loss to Northwestern. But it didn't play well enough to knock off the Big Ten's best team on the road. "I'm proud of the way my team played, to be honest with you," IU coach Tom Crean said. Harris has gone from rock in Indiana's shoe to poison thorn in its side the past two seasons. He scored 40 total points in two meetings last season. Both were landmark wins for the Hoosiers, en route to a Big Ten title. This season, he has pumped in 50, including a career-high 26 in Michigan State's blowout win in Bloomington earlier this month. His corner 3-pointer with 2:12 left Tuesday was perhaps the game's biggest make. A late Indiana rally proved fruitless. "I said at halftime: 'We're going to Gary Harris. Does everybody understand that?'" Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "He put us on his back." Despite its obvious mistakes, Indiana will be heartened by its performance. The Hoosiers were a double-digit underdog but took the conference's preseason No. 1 team to the final minutes on the road. "I thought Indiana outplayed us," Izzo said. Whatever Izzo's assessment, the Hoosiers' cold streak at the rim cost them dearly on Tuesday. After taking a 46-41 lead with 11:54 left in the second half, Indiana missed six layups over the next 9 ½ minutes, while Michigan State tore off a 23-9 run that gave them control for good. "We missed some of the same shots that we were making earlier in the game," Crean said. "We've just got to continue to work on finishing."
IU hurts itself in loss to Michigan State
Indianapolis Star | Jan 22