The Michigan State Spartans traveled to Assembly Hall to face off against the Indiana Hoosiers. This was a huge game for both teams, but especially for the Hoosiers. One loss for Indiana could put them out of the tournament.
This one was back and forth throughout. Both teams were tied at 34 at the break. The 2nd half was when it got interesting. The Spartans opened up a commanding lead, but they tried their best to give it away. Michigan State was up by 11 with 3:51 left to play, but after some questionable late game decisions, the Hoosiers cut the lead to 1. Yogi Ferrell had a chance to tie the game at the line, but he missed the free throw. The Spartans escaped Assembly Hall with a 74-72 win.
What We Learned
The Spartans still struggle to close out games
Even though Michigan State was able to escape with a win, it wasn't pretty. It appeared the Spartans were going to cruise to the victory when they were up by 11 with under 4 minutes to play. You have to credit Indiana for fighting back and hitting clutch shots, but Michigan State is to blame for not closing this one out when they could've. The Spartans free throw shooting came back to haunt them again. They only shot 55% from the line. Denzel Valentine had a couple late game gaffs including a costly held ball turnover and an inexplicable late game foul that gave Indiana a chance to tie the game at the line.
Late game situations have been a problem area for the Spartans all year. They tried almost every way possible to let Indiana back in the game. Games like this have to drive Coach Izzo crazy. At the end of the day all they got the win, but it wasn't pretty.
Nick Zeisloft can give you big points off the bench
Zeisloft made his presence felt all day for the Hoosiers. He finished with 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting. He also knocked down a huge 3 with 32 seconds left to play to cut the deficit to just 3. Zeisloft was deadly behind the arc all day and knocked down 5 of his 8 attempts from deep. He has provided over 12 points off the bench the last 4 games. Hopefully he can continue this for the Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament.
Alvin Ellis III can play big minutes in big games.
Ellis came into this one averaging just over 1 point per game. He hasn't scored much in the opportunities he's been given this season, but he showed us on Saturday afternoon he he's capable of doing. He finished with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting. We'll see if Ellis can have a similar performance in the Big Ten Tournament, or if this game was a flash in the pan.
Indiana has to make a splash in the Big Ten Tournament if they want to make the NCAA Tournament
The Hoosiers put themselves in jeopardy of missing the tournament with the way they closed the season out. They've lost 8 of their last 12 games including their last 3 straight. You can't be feeling too good with how this season has gone. After their blowout against Maryland in the end of January, their season has gone straight down hill. They haven't played like an NCAA Tournament team to close the regular season out. They need to pull off a couple upsets in the Big Ten Tournament if they think they have any chance to be invited to the Big Dance.
This was a nice win for the Spartans. They controlled most of the 2nd half, but they loosened their grip at the very end of the game and it almost cost them. That's something that Izzo would certainly like to see improved.
This was a bad loss for the Hoosiers. A win against Michigan State would've given them some breathing room going into the Big Ten Tournament. Now they have to pull off a couple upsets in the Big Ten Tournament to try to sneak into the Big Dance. Indiana certainly has it's work cut out for them.