Depleted Indiana earns critical Big Ten road win over No. 6 Michigan State
Indiana snapped its longest losing streak in eight years with a depleted lineup as the Hoosiers outlasted No. 6 Michigan State in overtime, 79-75, on Saturday night.
In the midst of a seven-game losing streak and playing without senior forward Juwan Morgan for most of the game (shoulder injury), this is the kind of win that could reignite Indiana’s sluggish season. A -13.5 point underdog entering this game, nobody would have given the Hoosiers a shot to win this game without Morgan contributing much of anything. And yet, here we are, with Indiana improving its intriguing case for an at-large bid with one of the biggest wins of the college basketball season.
Freshman Romeo Langford struggled to find consistency but still performed like the go-to, five-star freshman he was brought in to be as he scored 19 points -- including a huge driving layup near the end of regulation. Al Durham (14 points), Justin Smith (13 points), De’Ron Davis (12 points) and Devonte Green (11 points) also finished in double-figures for a balanced Hoosiers effort as the team came together following Morgan’s departure midway through the first half.
Smith stepped up with some huge defensive plays protecting the rim while Davis gave Indiana a solid boost as a post scorer -- also nailing some key free throws in overtime. Indiana also pounded the offensive glass to the tune of 20 boards as they made the most out of every possession.
Although Michigan State received 26 points from Cassius Winston, the Spartans struggled to find a consistent second option. Even though Michigan State blocked 14 shots (eight of them by Kenny Goins), Indiana stayed persistent. It also helped that Michigan State’s free-throw woes (8-for-22) prevented them from closing out the game.
Indiana still has some work to do after the long losing streak, but this is a massive win for the Hoosiers in the profile for March. Owning wins over Louisville, Marquette and a road win in East Lansing, Indiana has some very impressive moments this season. And with the Big Ten schedule finally slowing down a bit for them, Indiana has a chance to get more wins to put the season on the right track.
The health of Morgan’s shoulder is going to be something to keep track of. Despite the unlikely win over Michigan State without him, the Hoosiers still need Morgan to be an NCAA tournament team.