EAST LANSING – Michigan State entered the Breslin Center Tuesday night fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth with Indiana standing firmly in its way.
Yet, both squads shot low percentages, were sloppy on both ends of the floor, and turned the ball over.
Indiana made 8-of-28 field goals and hit one out of 12 from 3-point land, while MSU drained 7-of-21 overall and 1-of-8 beyond the arc.
Joshua Langford and Julius Marble scored six points apiece to lead the Spartans, whereas Rob Phinisee and Trayce Jackson-Davis helped keep it a tie game at the half.
Michigan State's tired legs may have contributed to a slow first 20-minutes, but with two games against the Wolverines later this week, defeating IU was a must to avoid putting enormous amounts of pressure on themselves.
Moreover, MSU would be wise to take care of the basketball; eight first-half turnovers resulted in more than a third of Indiana's total points.
The Spartans are also missing Aaron Henry, who tied a career-high 27 points in a 78-71 victory over the Hoosiers on Feb. 20. He walked into the locker room 2-for-7 with four points, two rebounds, and three assists.
To begin the second half, Langford hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 29, then drew a charge on Jackson Davis, IU's star center, giving him his third foul of the game. After that sequence, Henry drove to the rack for a layup, delivering a two-point lead for MSU.
With 11:35 remaining, Michigan State and Indiana combined for 14 fouls in less than eight and a half minutes of basketball, meaning both teams expected to shoot loads of free-throws.
Offensively, the Spartans missed 11 straight shots at one point and had made just three field goals following halftime.
However, MSU took its first lead since the opening minutes thanks to Gabe Brown, who made a 3-pointer and a long jumper as part of a 9-1 run for the Spartans.
At the 6:15 mark, Jackson-Davis was a non-factor. The big man scored a career-high 34-points last time out, but Michigan State's centers kept him in check for majority of the night.
He managed a lighter workload due to foul trouble and was 1-of-4 shooting (eight points), with six points coming from the charity stripe.
Meanwhile, Joey Hauser nailed back-to-back jump hooks providing MSU a one-point advantage.
Henry started to take over, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second half and hitting five straight – doing his best to will the Spartans to a victory.
The junior captain followed it up with a three on one end and a steal on the other, once again, coming through in the clutch for Michigan State.
He single-handedly led the Spartans past Indiana for a second time, finishing with 22 points (8-of-16), eight boards, five assists, one block, two steals, and scoring 12 straight to put MSU back on the bubble and potentially in the field of 68.
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