The Minute After: Michigan State

  • 01/21/2017 7:04 pm in

Thoughts on a 82-75 win against the Spartans:

Without OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan, the Hoosiers stepped onto Branch McCracken Court with a sense of purpose this afternoon. The defense, spurned on by first-time starter Zach McRoberts, was stout. James Blackmon Jr. couldn’t miss. Others were dropping in 3-pointers as well. Devonte Green continued to make the most of his minutes.

The Assembly Hall faithful, which had been ready for this one all day, were rocking.

It all led to the Hoosiers holding a double-digit lead for 13:19 of game clock (4:11 in first half to 8:52 in second half), the lead ballooning all the way up to 20 at the 15:20 mark in the second half.

And despite a bit of a scare over the final minutes of the contest where the Spartans cut the lead to four, Indiana emerged with a seven-point victory. This is Indiana’s third straight win, its first over a Top 50 team since UNC on Nov. 30. The Hoosiers are now over .500 (4-3) in conference for the first time all season.

Blackmon Jr. was brilliant this afternoon as his 33 points tied for a career-high. The junior let it rip from distance and hit 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, which helped aid the Hoosiers to a hot shooting performance from 3-point distance (11-of-24, 45.8 percent). Blackmon Jr. also hit a tough right-handed runner late to keep the Spartans at distance.

Thomas Bryant still looked a little out of sorts at times. But he played hard. Really hard. A sequence in the second half tells the tale. After missing a second of two free throws at the line, Bryant hustled down to the other end of the court and drew a charge on Alvin Ellis III. On Indiana’s ensuing possession, Blackmon Jr. drilled a 3-pointer to put the Hoosiers back up 11. Bryant finished with 11 points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal.

Indiana’s offense put up 1.28 points per possession against the Big Ten’s best defense. An under the radar reason for Indiana’s great offensive efficiency today? It didn’t shoot itself in the foot. The Hoosiers turned it over on just 14 percent of their possessions against the Spartans, a season best. When Indiana’s offense doesn’t turn the ball over, it can be absolutely deadly — especially when the 3-ball was dropping like it was in this one.

Indiana did allow 1.17 points per possession to the Spartans after giving up just .90 in the first half. Which is how MSU — led by Eron Harris (21 points) — erased a 20-point lead. But Indiana’s offense was good enough this afternoon to make up for its defensive slump in the second half.

While McRoberts isn’t as talented as Morgan or Anunoby, he’s certainly been more consistent in terms of what you can expect from him game in and game out. And he seems to have growing confidence with an increased role over the last two contests. McRoberts stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 32 minutes of play. The walk-on also hit a 3-pointer in the second half to boot, capping a contest where his contributions were incredibly valuable.

Indiana needs wins wherever it can get them at this point. So its two wins this week were important. But next week brings bigger challenges with two away games at Michigan and Northwestern.

The Hoosiers aren’t favored in either, but today’s effort brings hope they can beat the odds.

Filed to:

  • SCHoosier

    Not likely to shoot that well on the the D and limited TO’s have to be the critical components in stealing a few games we are projected to lose. For me right now..the conference title is for PU’s to much as it pains me to say it. Their guard play is improved..and with what they’ve got inside…if the Boilers continue to hit threes..they are hard to handle . I do sense that IU is now playing with a purpose..and that should help our effort. Morgan back will be big/ If the coaches can give them some plays to run while milking the clock..trying to protect a lead…it would help. Josh ended up with he ball again at a critical juncture end of game ..promptly drove into a trap and hit the side of the backboard. Other than little things like that..IU played a hell o f a a game.

  • SCHoosier

    Agree..DG has great floor vision and makes at least one “whoa!” pass each game. He sometimes shoots too quickly in a possession but was much better on that the last two games. Green looks to pass..Curtis looks to dribble. We’re gonna need all aspects of the game for the Hoosiers to have a fighting chance to finish in the upper third of the conference…IMO.

  • vicbert caladipo

    UW will win the bigten

  • Smilinjayd

    I just meant to tweak all those whom have trashed him. I was not pleased with some of his earlier games, but it appears now he is focused, committed and playing both ends of the court. That is what IU basketball is about. I wish I could say the same about JN. Kind of like a yo-yo. Mediocre one game, better, then good, then where was he. Yesterday was a “where was he” game.
    Last observations. I wish we did a better job of blocking out in rebounding. Many times I saw 3 IU players under the basket and a MSU player would rebound it. I know it’s not going to change this season but how can you not emphasize that skill for a team to be in the upper echelon?

  • Piker

    If it helps us at Michigan and Northwestern this week then keep it up KG. We all have our own way of giving Hoosiers some luck. I will be making the 2 hour drive to Welsh Ryan on Sunday and we will need it. NW is looking pretty good this year and I just want to witness a win in person.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Sunday’s sure are better when IU wins on Saturday.

  • kennygeorge

    Do a cheer for me and I’m envious. Yes NW is looking really good this year. Collins is doing a great job.

  • KingofKentucky

    As someone who has worked in hospitality for half his life I personally know that guests who have a great experience say little and those who don’t will tell 30 people about it.

  • Sandra Wilson

    Hard to count out Purdue, but Wisconsin has an easier schedule….The majority of last few years, the team with the easier schedule has won the B1G…..The B1G seems unable or unwilling to deal with this…..Create 2 divisions…..Play home and away with each…..Play once with other division…..Winner of each plays for title (like football)….Those two teams then receive a double bye for the B1G tourney……Now, the B1G would actually make more money from this setup…..We know that’s the most important thing to them…..Seems simple and fair to me…..It also would cut down on long trips, since the divisions would be geographically organized……They could even swap pairs in the divisions every couple of years (like UM and MSU with I.U. and Purdue) just to keep things interesting….This is not difficult to fix.

  • KingofKentucky

    Why is Minnesota always a pain to play? Like taxes and death I guess?

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Yeah, I didn’t necessarily think Newkirk had a bad game. I just think that Green is better…or perhaps better stated, Green’s skill set fits this roster better, IMO.

    I doubt that it happens this year, but next, I think Green is the starter and JN the backup.

  • No, you’re entirely correct, JN didn’t have a bad game at all. Right when I’m ready to throw in the towel on him, he goes and has a decent game. But I do agree–I just _feel_ better when DG is in the game. Maybe CTC is just giving the nod to the upperclassman by default, but yes, DG will be a starter next year, I think.

  • I’m really, really hoping JBJ keeps it up. It’ll reverse last year’s “team got better because JBJ got injured” meme that I’ve hated so much. If JBJ steps up consistently to fill in for OG’s absence, that would speak volumes about how it was other kids stepping up and not JBJ going down that caused the improvement last season.

  • vicbert caladipo

    The easiest schedule belongs to Mary who is currently leading this conference along with the team that will win it cuz they are the BEST. Peeyoo has no chance. They are a great team that no doubt will beat us twice, but you don’t lose to Iowa and Minn and expect do be there in the end. You saw what UW did to Minn in the barn. Minn is a good team. Not many will win in the barn the rest of the way. UW 15-3, Mary 13-5, Peeyoo 13-5 or 12-6. I like your idea but would rather drop a few of these new teams instead

  • vicbert caladipo

    JN would be a great asset if he just plays within his strengths. Not Driving in circles and shooting 3’s(even open ones as we saw yesterday), but agree DG has a far greater upside and he seems to be getting more confident. We now, no matter how some don’t like it, are a guard driven team and yesterday all our guards gave us good play.

  • Fifer39

    Surely no one still believes that old mumbo!! I think he’ll be the sort of player we’ll only realise what we had when he’s gone.

  • Oh, it pops up. Along with generally negative comments about him like “Yeah, but how many points did he give up on defense? Doesn’t help if he scores 26 but gives up 30 on the defensive end.” That’s a paraphrase of a recent comment I remember reading. It’s ridiculous, of course.

  • marcusgresham

    The same reason playing in Vanderbilt’s auditorium (I can’t even call it an arena with a straight face) is difficult. The set-up is just different than most other places. To some extent you could say the same about the physical lay-out of the Hall (but IU generally has a better product to defend the home site than Minnesota or Vanderbilt.)

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t know that I’ve ever questioned Bryant’s effort. He makes poor decisions at times and hasn’t had the success he had last season but I don’t think that’s been for lack of effort. It’s hard to pinpoint what the problem is because it’s obvious to the naked eye that he’s far superior athletically to what he was last year. I think he’s just trying to expand his game and do things he probably should leave to others.

  • marcusgresham

    Absolutely on the defense comment. I’ve been on him as much as anyone about his defense but yesterday he was getting after it.
    With all the comments about “lack of leadership,” I think it’s to be noted that in the last couple of games not only has Blackmon saved the collective posterior of the team, he’s appeared to be more demonstrative and–quite frankly I’d say having more fun–expressive.

  • marcusgresham

    Then they need to get out of his way! McBob the Builder has work to do!

  • marcusgresham

    The one major difference I would point out between the two of them (not the only one, but the one that probably matters the most in regards to what you’re saying,) is that Newkirk should not be shooting. The only person I want to see hoist a jumper less is McSwain. I think Newkirk realizes that it isn’t his strong suit, so he doesn’t do it often but still more than I would like. The fact that the defense can sag off of him leads him to see open lanes where there aren’t necessarily open lanes once he gets down low (and then he has nothing to do with the ball that is going to have a positive result.)
    Green is a far better shooter. That being said, in some sense it probably is better that Newkirk is on the floor with Johnson & Blackmon as a starter because when Green comes in, often with other subs, there need to be viable scoring options.
    Next year when Blackmon is likely gone you can make a stronger point for Green sliding into his spot.

  • marcusgresham

    You also have to consider that, currently “down” or not, Michigan State presents a pretty decent front court so his production is likely to take a bit of hit against them.

  • Chappy Dan

    I really like the McFloorburn moniker! Assuming it’s being used in good taste LOL

  • Chappy Dan

    It’s kind of unbelievable that being a walk-on is still a thing! It’s like: you’re telling us that a billion dollar institution can’t spring for every player on the roster? Like it’s going to torpedo the budget? Oh wait, is it a total number of scholarships allowed issue?

  • Brad

    Big win for the Hoosiers today, no question about it. But I think we have to dig a little deeper into what has happened the last two games. We blew a lead and then needed a buzzer beater to beat PSU. Then we blow a 20 point lead at home while JBJ has a career game and RJ was on fire. Losing OG will hurt us in the long run when you run into more talented teams in March.

    Our Defense is and will be our biggest most glaring weakness. Bryant still can’t seem to grow and mature into the potential he showed last year. Our lack of experience at the PG position will be exposed as the season goes on. With all of that said, these last two wins have been huge for the teams confidence. I think as long as we have this momentum going, we could be really good. But another Nebraska type loss could really set us back mentally and we can’t afford any more injuries.

  • Matthew Moran

    Great story – I was at the barn for IU v. Minny last year and it felt like a library. We sat in the lower bowl and received a lot of dirty looks and threats for simply cheering on the Hoosiers. Not much has changed, I guess.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    He hasn’t worn a tie all season. Someone asked him about it during one of these post game press conferences and he basically said it was more comfortable. Can’t blame him there.