Five takeaways from Indiana’s win against Michigan State

  • 03/11/2024 8:54 am in

Indiana finished the regular season with a 65-64 win against Michigan State on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The victory improved the Hoosiers to 18-13 overall and 10-10 in Big Ten play.

Here are five takeaways from the win against the Spartans:

Another dominant performance by Kel’el Ware

Kel’el Ware put a bow on a stellar sophomore season with arguably his best game yet against Michigan State.

The 7-footer from North Little Rock, Arkansas, was dominant on both ends of the floor for all of his 37 minutes.

Ware scored a career-high 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had two assists and blocked two shots. His rim protection was a deterrent all game, as the Spartans had trouble getting clean looks in the paint because of his length.

Despite struggling all game from the free-throw line—he finished 1-for-6—Ware made the most important free throw of the night to put the Hoosiers ahead with just under 18 seconds to go.

Ware finished the regular season with the conference’s best effective field goal percentage (66.2). He also led the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage, was fourth in block percentage, and had the third-best 2-point field goal percentage.

Still, Ware refused to acknowledge that he’d proven his doubters wrong.

“It’s always still more to prove,” Ware said postgame. “So I don’t feel like I’ve proven myself just yet.”

Hoosiers race to an early lead, but losing Trey Galloway killed the momentum

Indiana came out of the gate with plenty of juice in its final game of the regular season. The start was so good that Tom Izzo didn’t wait for the first media timeout to call a timeout.

Indiana built a 9-point lead at 12-3, forcing Izzo to use a timeout at the 15:10 mark.

That break didn’t help change the momentum as the Hoosiers pushed the lead to 20-5 on a Mackenzie Mgbako 3-pointer by the 13:14 mark.

But once Trey Galloway, who was wearing a knee brace, left the floor at the 12:54 mark, the momentum changed for the rest of the half.

Michigan State outscored the Hoosiers 24-14 over the final 12:15 to get the game within five at intermission.

Galloway, a significant part of Indiana’s team on both ends of the floor, didn’t return to the game. Indiana prevailed despite getting only seven minutes out of Galloway and eight total points from its guards — five of which were from Galloway — making the win even more impressive.

Indiana dominated the game in the paint

The Hoosiers made six 3-pointers – many of which came at crucial times – but this game was won in the paint.

Indiana outscored Michigan State 40-22 in the paint. The Hoosiers also won the second chance points battle, 12-9, and never let the Spartans get comfortable at the rim.

The trio of Ware, Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako scored 57 of Indiana’s 65 points.

Michigan State’s post-play was nearly invisible statistically.

It didn’t matter who Izzo deployed in the post; the production was meager.

Xavier Booker started and played seven minutes and didn’t register a single stat besides a missed shot. Carson Cooper went just 1-for-3 from the field and had seven rebounds in 17 minutes. Jaxon Kohler went scoreless in 14 minutes and had two rebounds. And Mady Sissoko played six minutes and committed four fouls.

The Hoosiers had no answer for Tyson Walker

After battling a groin injury for weeks, Tyson Walker finally looked healthy on Sunday afternoon.

A fifth-year guard, Walker nearly won the game single-handedly for the Spartans.

The 6-foot-1 guard finished with a game-high 30 points on 11-for-21 shooting from the field. He made four of his eight 3-point attempts and had three assists, three steals and no turnovers in 37 minutes.

It didn’t matter who the Hoosiers threw at Walker defensively, it didn’t work.

While Galloway’s absence was a major issue offensively because he can create offense for others, he was also missed for his defense. While Walker was hot for most of the second half and it may not have mattered who guarded him, getting the length of Galloway on him may have been beneficial in making some of his shots more challenging.

Fortunately for Indiana, Galloway said in his postgame speech that he plans to be back for the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis.

Indiana showed fight in finishing the regular season on a four-game winning streak

After losing four straight games to Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State, Indiana’s season appeared to go off the rails.

But the Hoosiers deserve credit for finishing the regular season with four straight wins and getting to .500 in Big Ten play.

As a whole, Indiana’s season has been disappointing. At 18-13 overall, No. 86 in KenPom and No. 93 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, the Hoosiers are not close to making the NCAA tournament.

However, Mike Woodson, the coaching staff and the players deserve credit for finishing the regular season on a high note. When things looked bleak, the Hoosiers were able to flip the momentum back in a positive direction.

“I think this is a different team going down the stretch,” Xavier Johnson said postgame. “The old team of a couple games ago would’ve probably quit. I don’t think we take punches well. But now I think we really do take the punches well. We want to hit back and win games.

“It’s coming down to the point where it’s March.”

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