Al Goldis
January 05, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Michigan State had its back to the wall and went back to playing ''Izzo-ball'' in the first half on Monday night.

The result was a 70-50 romp over Indiana, with Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson bouncing back after subpar games and several teammates playing key roles.

Battling sickness, Valentine scored 15 points, 11 more than in a double-overtime loss to Maryland last Tuesday, and Dawson added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Spartans (10-5, 1-1 Big Ten).

''We pushed the ball a lot better and got open looks,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''But our defense was really what won us the game. And `B.J.' (Dawson) was phenomenal.''

The Spartans raced to a 19-4 lead, went up 32-13 late in the first half and built a 30-point cushion with 13:13 to play. They were quicker at both ends of the court and had a 50-28 edge on the boards.

''Michigan State did a real good job of getting us back on our heels early, and we let them do it,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said. ''I was disappointed we never pushed back, and we picked a bad night to do that.''

Kevin ''Yogi'' Farrell led the Hoosiers (11-4, 1-1) with 17 points and was his team's lone double-figure scorer. James Blackmon Jr., the league's No. 2 freshman scorer, had eight points and hit 1 of 14 shots from the floor.

Part of the difference for a Michigan State team that allowed 32 free throws after halftime against the Terrapins was an unexpected lineup change. Freshman Tum Tum Nairn Jr. got the call at point guard, with second-leading scorer Travis Trice sick and limited to 24 minutes off the bench.

Nairn, who hadn't scored a basket in seven games, went 3 for 5 from the field, didn't have a turnover and played excellent defense in 26 minutes. Trice was just 1 for 8 from the field but had seven assists and no turnovers.

''Travis has been struggling a little bit and wasn't able to practice,'' Izzo said. ''I was really proud of him tonight, and the new rotation helped some. But I don't plan on it being a permanent thing.''

Gavin Schilling had 10 points and nine rebounds as the Spartans got 16 boards and four blocked shots from their centers. That domination inside helped Michigan State hold Indiana to 28-percent shooting from the field and 21 percent beyond the arc.

''Tom told me it was their best game this year, but that was probably just him being a good friend,'' Crean said. ''I was really disappointed in our level of compete. And we missed a lot of shots we usually make.''

The Hoosiers shot just 18 percent from the field and 9 percent on 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. While the Spartans had assists on 12 of their first 15 baskets, Indiana had just eight assists all night.

A 29-16 deficit on the boards didn't help the Hoosiers, who never got closer than 16 points in the second half. Starters Troy Williams and Hanner Mosquera-Perea played just 17 and 10 minutes, respectively.

''Everything we needed to do, get back on defense and definitely block out, we didn't do,'' Crean said. ''And Troy gave us very little fight tonight in the half-court. We didn't do anything we practiced.''

Michigan State couldn't afford to lose back-to-back Big Ten home games and the difference in energy and emotion was obvious. So was the Hoosiers' inability to rebound, run the court and run their offense before the game was lost.

''As I told Tom, that was one of the best first halves we've played,'' Izzo said. ''Indiana is a good team that didn't play well tonight. But it's going to win a lot of games.''

---

TIP-INS

Indiana: The Hoosiers came in shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range since the start of the 2010-11 season, the best mark among the power conferences. But in a frigid first half Monday, Indiana hit just 1 of 11 beyond the arc.

Michigan State: Branden Dawson entered the game as the Big Ten's No. 1 rebounder with 8.7 per game. With a brace on his fractured left wrist, the 6-foot-6 senior had seven boards in the first half and six in the second.

UP NEXT

Indiana hosts Ohio State Saturday.

Michigan State visits Iowa Thursday night.

You May Like