Michigan State is a different team with and without Adreian Payne, no doubt, but also a different one with and without suitcases. After two convincing wins from the Road Spartans last week, the Home Spartans returned to action Tuesday night, and the result was another uncomfortably close game against a supposedly overmatched opponent — and it might have been really uncomfortable if Gary Harris didn’t finally see red. Indiana, playing without senior guard Will Sheehey (ankle), led by five midway through the second half at the Breslin Center. Harris took over from there and scored 20 of his game-high 24 points after the break in a 71-66 MSU survival to continue the best start in school history. “We’re gonna run out of luck one of these days if we keep playing like this (at home),” said coach Tom Izzo, whose team managed its first Big Ten regulation victory at home — the No. 3 Spartans (18-1, 7-0 Big Ten) blew late leads against Ohio State and Minnesota and had to beat both in overtime. MSU played without Payne (sprained right foot) for a fourth straight game, and Indiana freshman big man Noah Vonleh was a different player than he was in MSU’s 73-56 rout at IU on Jan. 4. He had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell scored 19 to keep Indiana (12-7, 2-4) in the game until the end. Izzo said the Hoosiers “outplayed us.” But Harris continued his mastery of the home-state team that battled MSU for his services — he is averaging 22.5 points in four career games against the Hoosiers, and he has 50 points in two games against them this season. “I’m prejudiced, but I still think he’s the best player in the league,” Izzo said of Harris, who started the 11-2 run that gave the Spartans the lead for good with five quick points and helped turn it into a 21-6 run with a long three-point swish. “I saw an opening, and (Izzo) was saying, ‘If you’re open, shoot the ball,’ ” Harris said of that shot. “He got mad at me a few times for not shooting it. So when I was open, I just fired.” MSU also got a lift off the bench from Travis Trice, whose 10 points included two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to help ice the game. Denzel Valentine had 10 points and seven rebounds, hitting two free throws to end it with 4.4 ticks left. And Branden Dawson had 13 points and nine rebounds, with a burst of energy in the decisive run that “probably won the game for us,” Izzo said.
Michigan State 71, Indiana 66: Led by Gary Harris, Spartans scrape past pesky Hoosiers
Detroit Free Press | Jan 22