After holding a lead for about 38 minutes, Michigan State basketball fumbled it away in the final minutes to lose a heart-breaker against hapless Indiana.
Michigan State held a lead all afternoon long, but Indiana just wouldn’t go away. It was that pesky attitude that helped the Hoosiers beat the Spartans the first time in East Lansing and lifted Indiana over Michigan State for the second time this season, potentially dashing the Spartans’ Big Ten title hopes.
The Spartans held as much as a 12-point lead in the second half before watching it dwindle away by Indiana runs which were sparked by big 3-pointers as well as big plays by sophomore Justin Smith who was averaging just 8.0 points per game coming into the day and finished with 23.
Turnovers, poor rebounding and a lack of situational awareness down the stretch killed the Spartans as they were unable to help Cassius Winston out.
In fact, the junior point guard seemed to be the only means of offense for a long stretch and he was getting worn down by constant double-teams, hedges on screens and stifling defense by Rob Phinisee.
In the end, it was the Hoosiers who took the lead on a circus and-one by Juwan Morgan and the Spartans couldn’t respond in the final seconds after a timeout as Winston jacked up a contested mid-range jumper from the baseline and it fell short.
These are the kinds of games you expect championship-level teams to win, but when they give the game away to silly, avoidable mistakes, you have to question whether or not they deserved to win the conference. Can’t lose two games against a mediocre Indiana team and expect to walk away with a Big Ten title — especially when you allow 15 offensive rebounds and score just 62 points.
Indiana got the best of the Spartans yet again and it’s time for Michigan State to get back to the drawing board for a big week ahead.