Tom Izzo says he doesn't do it often, but Tuesday night against Indiana, he felt he had to. Heading into the locker room at halftime, No. 3 Michigan State was trailing Indiana 28-27. The one-point deficit wasn't such a big deal to Izzo -- his team is 5-0 when trailing at the break this season. What bothered him was how out of sync his offense looked, again, in the first 20 minutes of a game. So Izzo broke tendency and took an iron-fisted approach to the second half. "I just said at halftime, 'We're going to Gary Harris. Everybody understand that?' Izzo said. "I don't like doing that, personally." He may not have liked it, but it worked. Harris, who had scored just four points in the first half, exploded for 20 in the second to lead the Spartans (18-1, 7-0) past Indiana (12-7, 2-4) on Tuesday, 71-66. Harris' 24 points means the sophomore guard now averages 22.5 points in four career games played against his home-state Hoosiers. Izzo's mandate may have veered from the norm, but it was something that made sense to the players. "That's what you want," Denzel Valentine said. "You want to get Gary the ball because that's what he does, he scores. Everybody has their role on the team and they do different things. "Gary always plays good against Indiana, so we wanted to get him the ball and he responded." Harris' second-half explosion started immediately, stripping both Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Austin Etherington, hitting a 3 and getting to the line twice in just the first four minutes. He finished the game with five steals. "I felt it going our way as soon as the second half started," Harris said. "Everybody had the right attitude, we had the right energy. It took us until like the 10-minute mark to turn it up but I had the feeling the whole second half." Prior to the 10-minute mark, the Spartans offense stuttered, allowing Indiana to go on a 6-0 run and retake the lead 46-41. Things got worse when guard Travis Trice picked up his third foul and point guard Keith Appling headed to the bench nursing a sore wrist. Harris wasn't just the go-to guard at that point, he was one of the only guards. Harris' 3 with 10 minutes to go tied the score at 46. The play ignited both Branden Dawson and Valentine, who followed Harris' lead and scored on back-to-back three-point plays, giving the Spartans the lead for good. "What an incredible performance by him, again," Izzo said of Harris.
Izzo breaks tendency, mandates that offense go through Gary Harris
Michigan Live | Jan 22