Indiana forced itself into the national conversation on Thursday night with a significant win against No. 9 Michigan State.
In a tightly contested game that came down to the wire, the Hoosiers showed the toughness that has at times been in question this season. The big plays late came from two of the upperclassmen on the team that IU head coach Archie Miller is counting on to produce in key moments.
With the game knotted at 60 with a little over two minutes remaining, junior guard Al Durham hit a shot from distance to put Indiana up by three.
“I thought he (Durham) was comfortable on offense most of the game, and he made plays from the outside, made some really good shots,” Miller said after the game. “And I felt at the end of the game he was the most comfortable of having the aggressiveness to make a play to get to the basket and score.
Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman scored on the next possession to pull the Spartans back to within a point.
On IU’s next possession, Joey Brunk made a key layup that put IU in position to win if they locked in defensively.
“Joey’s second shot late in the game, I think he caught one, it was an air ball and he flipped it in,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said of Brunk’s shot that put Indiana up 65-62 with a minute left. “As big a play as you’re going to make. Being able to get that type of effort on the glass is huge.”
Indiana was able to get enough stops in the closing minute to finish off the Spartans 67-63 before a raucous crowd in Bloomington. Two Jerome Hunter free throws put the game out of reach and set the final margin.
Indiana led 25-10 midway through the first half and looked like they might run away with the game.
But the Spartans responded.
“I give Michigan State a lot of credit,” Miller said. “They took a big punch early. And, as we knew they would, they came right back and sort of steam rolled the back six minutes, seven minutes of the first half.
Indiana led 37-30 at the break after Durham hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to close out the first half.
MSU was able to take a 51-48 second half lead before the Hoosiers responded to pull it out in the closing minutes.
Cassius Winston led MSU with 17 points and 5 assists. Indianapolis native Aaron Henry added 12 points for the Spartans.
Inside The Numbers:
Three players were in double figures for Archie Miller’s team. Brunk led the way with 14 points while Trayce Jackson-Davis and Durham had 12 and 11, respectively. Brunk led the Hoosiers in rebounds with 6.
IU won the rebounding margin 31-29, including a 10-5 advantage on the offensive end.
For the game, Indiana was 4-of-12, or 33.3 percent, from three-point range.
The Hoosiers had 34 points in the paint compared to 18 for the Spartans.
IU had 12 assists compared to 8 turnovers for the game. Limiting turnovers was key in not allowing Michigan State to score easy buckets in transition.
Indiana (15-4, 5-3) hosts No. 17 Maryland in a Big Ten conference matchup. The game tips off at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 26.
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you.