Hoosiers Answer Every Spartan Challenege, Grind Out The Win

It had all the makings of a classic “Potential upset bid runs out of steam” game for the Indiana Hoosiers, who led by as many as 15, when with 11:06 remaining they found themselves trailing the Michigan State Spartans for the first time all game.

But with the benefit of hindsight, it made total sense the Hoosiers would respond, just like they did to every Spartan challenge.

The Hoosiers did just that and held on for the gritty 67-63 win. The Hoosiers now sit tied for third in the Big Ten at 5-3 (15-4 overall), but they had to earn it from Michigan State on Thursday night.

Down 15 midway through the first half, the Spartans went on a 14-2 run to make it a one possession game with five minutes until halftime. Then Armaan Franklin drove to the basket and converted a tough lay-up and drew the foul. After making the foul shot, Franklin recovered a Michigan State turnover and found Race Thompson on the fastbreak to push the lead back to eight.

The Spartans recovered and cut it to four with just 25 seconds left until the half but again the Hoosiers responded as Al Durham hit a contested three right before the buzzer went off to push IU’s lead back to seven. It was Indiana’s first made three of the game after missing its first four.

“I give Michigan State a lot of credit. They took a big punch early. And, as we knew they would, they came right back,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “I give our guys credit though. We found a way to gut it out.”

Michigan State came out hot to start the second half, as the Spartans made their first five threes but yet still trailed Indiana until the 11:48 mark when Malik Hall tied the game on his dunk. The Spartan defense would force a long two-point attempt from Justin Smith on the next possession and finally went ahead on a three from Rocket Watts.

Yet despite seeming like the Spartans would finally put the pesky Hoosiers away, Indiana gutted it out yet again.

Despite shooting just 21.3% from three-point range on the season coming into the game, Franklin tied the game back up on his own three-pointer just a few minutes later. From there, both teams traded turns having the lead until Durham hit his second three of the game, a go-ahead dagger from the right wing that broke a 60-60 tie with 1:52 left.

Rob Phinisee assisted on the huge three and on the next possession, after a Xavier Tillman basket cut Indiana’s lead to one, Phinisee found Joey Brunk for a layup to push it back to three with a minute to go. Brunk was a huge factor for the Hoosiers on the night, leading them in both points (14) and rebounds (six).

“He’s given his absolute max on everything that he’s doing. You never question his effort,” raved Miller. “His everyday approach is something, as a coach, you marvel at, the work ethic.”

The Hoosiers would have to hold on one more time as the Spartans had possession down two with nine seconds left. Cassius Winston, who had 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, got a screen and had IU’s freshman star Trayce Jackson-Davis one-on-one, but was unable to shake him as he was forced to dump it off to Tillman on the fly and he missed the layup. It was a perfectly designed ploy by Coach Miller as explained by Jackson-Davis.

“When we came out of the timeout, Coach called blue. Blue is our switch everything. And so I just didn’t want him to shoot a three. So I kind of baited him downhill and he took it, and I made a good play on the ball.”

It was the kind of win that took a total team effort, one that required all of the Hoosiers to not back down when Michigan State started turning up the heat. It’s the type of win that will hold a lot of value going forward, both as a resume win and as an example to look back on and gather strength from in future times of need.

Indiana Overcomes Cold Shooting, Still Decisively Beats Ohio State

“I thought we got our head out of the mud after Wednesday (against Northwestern). We were fortunate to win Wednesday, but we got our attitude, we got our heads together and guys were ready to go today.”

Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller was not afraid to admit that his Hoosiers needed to come together and improve if they wanted to survive in the Big Ten this season, and that’s exactly what they did on Saturday during IU’s 66-54 win over Ohio State.

It was a resounding win after a couple week stretch that saw Indiana continuously struggle in conference play, which culminated in just narrowly avoiding a home loss to the worst team in the conference. Though the Hoosiers did ultimately come up with the win against Northwestern, it still brought up questions about whether this team can compete consistently in the Big Ten. Indiana presented their evidence on Saturday and things now look much brighter as they improved to 13-3 overall and 3-2 in conference games.

Facing a talented Buckeyes team that had lost three straight and were looking to right the ship and get back on track, the Hoosiers ended up looking like the team that returned to form as they held Ohio State to just 32.7% shooting (17-of-52) and an ice-cold 21.4% (6-of-28) during the second half.

Indiana secured its second win against a ranked team, but unlike the Florida State win which saw Devonte Green explode for 30 points and saw the Hoosiers outrebound the Seminoles 35 to 25, IU was actually slightly outrebounded by the Buckeyes 36 to 35 and while Green was again the leading scorer for the Hoosiers, it was a much tamer 19 points.

In fact, this game was a far cry from your typical upset as the Hoosiers were far from perfect. Indiana faced multiple extended stretches without making a field goal, including a ridiculous stretch of 11:17 that included the last 9:57 of the first half. Yet the Hoosiers’ defense minimized the damage and the offense made just enough foul shots as Ohio State only outscored Indiana 18-6 during the run and the Buckeyes led just 34-31 at half.

Thankfully the Hoosiers had built a big enough cushion to withstand such a long drought in large part thanks to Rob Phinisee, who started for Green and hit three three-pointers in the first three and a half minutes to help Indiana sprint out to an early 13-5 lead. The Hoosiers would build that lead to 25-16 before the shots stopped falling.

“He came out hot, and that really set the tone for the rest of the team going forward during the game,” praised IU forward Justin Smith. Green added that Phinisee’s hot start also provided energy for both the crowd and the team.

The Hoosiers briefly found a rhythm to start the second half and reclaimed the lead on an 8-0 run before again going a long period without a field goal, this time for five and half minutes. Yet again the defense held serve as Ohio State managed only an 8-1 run during that span and held a 42-40 lead before Green took over the game.

The senior guard ended the field goal drought with a huge three to give Indiana back the lead, and even though Buckeye freshman D.J. Carton answered with a three of his own, it would be the last field goal for the Buckeyes for nearly six minutes as Green would lead Indiana on a 14-3 run that put the game away.

While the Hoosiers did earn a huge win on Saturday, Miller acknowledges that the grind of the Big Ten is only going to get tougher.

“In this league it just becomes such a slugfest, you need a jolt of energy. We got a good jolt of energy (today). Now you’ve got to have some humility and figure out a way to go on the road and compete against Rutgers. It’s going to be 50 times harder than it was (Saturday), and each game that goes by is going to be 50 times harder than that one. We’ve just got to keep raising our level of intensity and we’ve got to stay with it, and I think this team has a chance.”