Grit, Toughness, And A Lot Of Rebounds Aren’t Enough For Hoosiers To Overcome Shooting Woes In Close Loss To Spartans

“In East Lansing they punked us. We came to this mindset, this can’t happen (again).”

Those were the words of Juwan Morgan after Indiana’s 63-60 loss to Michigan State in regards to the team’s performance, and what a performance it was on Saturday night.

Just a few weeks ago, the Spartans obliterated the Hoosiers 85-57. Indiana was outrebounded 45-27, outscored 17-6 on second chance points, and outscored 38-18 in the paint.

On Saturday night, the Hoosiers wouldn’t be pushed around. Instead they pushed back. The Hoosiers outrebounded the Spartans 53-29, outscored them 14-0 on second chance points, and outscored them 24-22 in the paint.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

The Hoosiers dug themselves a first half deficit thanks to some horrendous shooting as IU made just 6 of 35 shots (17.1%) during the first 20 minutes. Yet despite a gigantic disadvantage in shooting (Michigan State shot 12 of 24 in the first half), the Hoosiers were still within striking distance going into the second half down just eight points.

The reason for this was because of Indiana’s huge rebounding advantage. Despite being blocked nine times in the first half, the Hoosiers kept crashing the offensive glass and were rewarded with 15 first half offensive rebounds, which is just one shy of how many total rebounds the Spartans had in the first half.

However there is a Yin to every Yang. The absurd amount of offensive rebounds meant that the Hoosiers were missing a lot of shots, which contributed to the low shooting percentage.

To counteract that and keep the Hoosiers in the game, Indiana grabbed all but one of Michigan State’s missed shots in the first half, preventing the Spartans from getting a single second chance point.

The Hoosiers would shoot much better in the second half, hitting 13 of 31 field goal attempts (41.9%) while continuing to own the boards 25-13, yet the Spartans were able to hold on thanks to their extremely efficient shooting.

Despite taking 19 fewer shots over the course of the game, Michigan State stayed ahead thanks to 48.9% overall shooting (23 of 47) compared to the 28.8% overall shooting (19 of 66) of Indiana. The Spartans were also 50% (9 of 18) from three-point range compared to the Hoosiers’ 21.1% (4 of 19).

“(Michigan State) had a lot to do with the (low shooting) numbers, just in terms of impacting the rim and the field goal percentage offense with their shot blocking and their size and they made it hard on us,” said IU Head Coach Archie Miller, who despite having narrowly lost yet again to an elite opponent, was very proud of his team’s toughness.

“Credit our guys. I thought they fought hard and played hard. We’re getting, especially against some really good teams, to the last two or three minutes and just have to find a way to make a couple of plays. And I think that’s what teams who know how to win do, teams like Michigan State and Purdue. With two minutes on the line they know they’re going to win. And right now we’re still trying to figure out how to make those dagger plays to find a way to win.”

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