The Minute After: Michigan State

  • 03/10/2024 8:02 pm in

Thoughts on a 65-64 win against the Spartans: 

Indiana started with a bang. The Hoosiers scored inside, outside and in transition. On defense, they rode Michigan State deep into possessions, forcing tough shots and misses.

At the 13:14 mark, the Hoosiers amassed a 20-5 lead after a Mackenzie Mgbako 3-pointer, his second of the contest.

But Trey Galloway then headed to the bench, never to return to the contest after an apparent knee injury. And thus, Indiana’s offense lost its motor.

The Hoosiers turned the ball over nine times before halftime with Galloway on the bench, those miscues coming on 27 percent of their possessions. Near the end of the half, Kel’el Ware, Malik Reneau and Mgbako threw a bad pass for a turnover on three consecutive possessions.

As Indiana fumbled away the ball and found less success on offense, Michigan State started to get more comfortable and scored eight points in the final 1:23 of the first half to close the gap to five at the buzzer, 34-29.

As the second half began, it looked like Michigan State might run away with this thing. Tyson Walker (game-high 30 points) started heating up and Indiana had no answer for him. Walker and Jaden Akins each hit two early 3-pointers and all of a sudden Michigan State found itself up seven points at the 15:23 mark.

On offense, Indiana looked like the version of itself that’s been criticized this season. With no Galloway, a reduced Xavier Johnson and Gabe Cupps not ready, the Hoosiers dumped it inside repeatedly, hoping Ware and Reneau would have answers. It wasn’t pretty. It won’t win awards. But it worked. Reneau did turn it over three times in the final 20 minutes, but chipped in six points on 3-of-5 shooting. He also assisted on a Ware bucket with 1:55 to go, putting Indiana up 64-62. But the star of the show, as it’s been for most of the season, was Ware. Ware scored 19 points in the second half on 9-of-13 shooting. He also hit 1-of-2 at the line to put the Hoosiers up 65-64 with 17 seconds left, where the score remained. Ware and Reneau combined for 25 of Indiana’s 31 second-half points. Only two other baskets were made outside Indiana’s frontcourt duo in the second half, as Mgbako and Johnson both made a 3-pointer.

Johnson had a bad turnover in transition, but it was his only one of the second half against his three assists. His final assist came out of the pick-and-roll with Reneau, finding the big man in the paint for a bucket to give the Hoosiers a 62-60 lead with 2:37 to go.

The Hoosiers tightened up enough on defense to hold the Spartans to under a point per possession (.96). Walker missed two shots in the final 47 seconds of the contest, including the final shot of the game as Anthony Leal came over on the help to contest as Walker drove on Johnson on the right side of the court. From there, the rebound batted around until Johnson came up with it and dribbled out the clock.

Mike Woodson and this team have received considerable criticism from the fanbase over the last few weeks.

Leal spoke to it during his senior speech, announcing he’d be returning for a fifth season.

‘There’s no other coach in the country I would trust, with anything in my life, than coach Woodson, and there’s no other university I’d want to represent,” he said. “We’re gonna run it back. But you guys gotta chill.”

After four straight wins and a possible No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament, perhaps Leal has a point about entering chill mode.

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