Credit - Eric Crawford / WDRB

Michigan State at Indiana: The Report Card

If you are not confused then you haven’t been paying attention.

Indiana started the season winning 12 of their first 14 games.  Then they lost 12 of 13.  Now the Hoosiers have won two straight over top 20 teams.

Where this wild ride is headed next is anyone’s guess.

Indiana lost by 23 at home to Michigan just over a month ago.  Michigan State just went to Ann Arbor and took down the Wolverines last weekend.  And now of course, Indiana finishes their series sweep of the Spartans.

The Hoosiers took down No. 6 Michigan State on Saturday afternoon, the students stormed the court, and Archie Miller’s squad has proven once again that they are fully bought in on riding this thing out to the end.

It’s been a crazy season in a crazy league and although it is difficult to comprehend, Indiana is still firmly in the NCAA Tournament picture.

The Hoosiers (15-14, 6-12) will travel to Illinois on Thursday.

OVERALL (B)

The start to both halves of this game were not dissimilar to what we’ve seen when this team has been at their worst.  Michigan State opened up a 9-2 lead to start the game as IU was slow to react on the defensive end.  What was unique was that head coach Archie Miller chose to take a time out to stem the tide.

While the time out helped momentarily, a 7-0 run put MSU up 27-15 as Indiana couldn’t make anything form the field.

Finally Rob Phinisee knocked down a three-pointer with 5:30 left in the first half and that seemed to get Indiana going.  IU went into the locker room down just seven.

A quick 4-0 start for MSU in the second half drew another timeout from Miller, and once again, Indiana quelled a run.

From there Indiana finished the game with a 35-23 advantage, including a 7-0 run over the game’s final 4:13.

Just like in East Lansing, it was the combination of De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green playing together in the second half that sparked a 9-0 run that completely changed the course of the game, as IU moved from down 45-35 to within one with the junior duo on the floor.

When they finally took the lead at 63-62, it was Indiana’s first lead since 2-0.

Miller and the staff also showed growth with their clear decision to use a foul that they had to give with under 10 second remaining when Cassius Winston seemingly had a path to the basket.

OFFENSE (C+)

It was fitting that Juwan Morgan’s game winning shot came on an offensive rebound, because that was a big part of Indiana’s production on this day.  The Hoosiers grabbed 15 offensive rebounds to MSU’s 5, and IU got 10 second chance points.

At 37.7%, it was another rough shooting day for Indiana going up against the same scheme that they have seen for most of the season.  Michigan State doubled the post and cut off driving lanes, forcing Indiana into a perimeter shooting team.

While Indiana struggled from the field overall, they did enough from behind the three-point line to make MSU pay.

A central theme of that pack-it-in defensive approach has been to give Justin Smith as much room as possible.  He knocked down three from long range in the first half, and then Devonte Green knocked down three more in the second half.

Both players kept Indiana in the game, and just eight turnovers on the day gave Indiana enough possessions to finally pull through at the end.

DEFENSE (A-)

The Spartans were able to make IU pay in the first half for focusing on Cassius Winston.  MSU got several pick and rolls and slips to the basket as IU’s big men had one eye on the All-American point guard.  Indiana cleaned that up in the second half while continuing to not allow Winston any looks from the perimeter.  The Spartan guard averages nearly six three-pointers a game but had just one attempt.

Like a team building confidence, the Hoosier defense tightened up as the game progressed.  Miller had this to say about the second half effort.

“I thought defensively we were much better in the second half, and then as about the 12-minute mark, the 8-minute mark started to come around, you could feel our guys have a different vibe about them just in terms of their energy level, and the last four minutes being able to get some key stops,” Miller said.

Indiana held Michigan State scoreless after a Matt McQuaid jumper made it 62-56 with 4:13 remaining.

After MSU shot 60% from the field in the first half, IU held them to 47.8% in the second period.

Miller also spoke about Rob Phinisee’s effort guarding Winston, and the overall team defense down the stretch:

“Well, they probably set as many screens for him as any player you’re going to guard, so when you’re guarding him, you’re getting nailed,” Miller said.  “I mean, you’re getting nailed for 40 minutes. I thought Rob’s on-ball defense was great. I thought our ball screen defense wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”

“Late in the game we really were — last six minutes, last four minutes, I thought Juwan and a couple guys did a much better job of helping Rob contain him and he didn’t get down to the rim as much the last four minutes,” Miller said.  “But the last possession was very fitting for Rob. That’s the guy that we all saw very early on in his career was going to be a special type of a player, and the way that he guarded in that last situation, it can’t get any better. If he would have made the shot, he would have made it over a challenged guy in his face. But luckily it rimmed out for us, and the horn sounded.”

Indiana also held MSU to just two fast break points despite their emphasis on getting out in transition.


OTHER GAME COVERAGE


THE PLAYERS

(players with meaningful minutes)

  • Juwan Morgan* (B) Morgan continues to face double teams and thus isn’t getting clean looks other than three-point shots.  Once again he hit double digit rebounds and added 3 steals.  He did a nice job stepping in front of Winston in transition to slow the Spartan transition offense.
  • Justin Smith* (A-) Smith scored 13 of IU’s first 15 points and made their only shots from the field in the first 15 minutes of the game.  If he would have had an off day this would have been another home blowout.  He cooled down a bit in the second half, but Smith’s two offensive rebounds in the final minute allowed IU to burn a lot of additional clock.
  • Romeo Langford* (B-) It was certainly a quieter all around game for Langford, but he made several plays down the stretch as his production improved in the second half and gave the Hoosiers a boost going into the locker room with a bucket to close out the half.  He continues to be a key part of the defensive improvement as well.
  • Rob Phinisee* (A-) There is only one thing that you can say about Phinisee’s ability to move his feet laterally and stay in front of Winston on the final two defensive possessions — elite.  This is a player that is going to give opposing point guards nightmares for years to come.  It is no coincidence that IU’s play has elevated substantially along with Phinisee’s return to 100 percent.
  • Al Durham* (C+) A quiet day for Durham as Miller went with Green’s hot hand down the stretch.
  • De’Ron Davis (B) Davis didn’t practice much of the week due to an illness and didn’t play significant minutes in this one.  He was productive on the glass during his brief run in the game.
  • Devonte Green (A) You really couldn’t script three bigger 3-pointers in the second half from Green. Each time it felt like the game might be slipping away before he knocked them down.  He played within himself throughout the game.  Green was also very active on the defensive end with 3 steals including several digs out of the post.
  • Race Thompson and Zach McRoberts also appeared in the game briefly.

*Denotes Starters

(Note:  Class of 2019 recruiting target Harlond Beverly was in attendance.)


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