The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 21, 2021 1:00 am

Michigan State 78 Indiana 71

Indiana defense struggles in defeat

Gives up 52 points in 2nd half to Spartans

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – A complete bust.

That's how Indiana coach Archie Miller described his team's second-half defensive performance Saturday against Michigan State, when the Hoosiers surrendered 52 points and the Spartans shot 56% on the way to a 78-71 win at Assembly Hall.

“It was a disappointing day for our team,” Miller said. “We knew today was going to be hard and I am disappointed in our team's ability to defend in the second half. ... We did not control either end in the second half and it is a hard one to take.”

Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis scored a career-high 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Race Thompson scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and notched seven steals, tied for the fourth-most in Indiana history.

The Hoosiers (12-10, 7-8 Big Ten) led by as many as 13 in the first half and were up 38-29 with 17:21 to play, but Michigan State scored 41 points in the next 12:44 to race in front by 12. Indiana did not get closer than four down the stretch.

Spartans forward Aaron Henry was the main culprit during his team's extended run, scoring 13 points during the spurt. He finished with a career-high 27 and Miller admitted the Hoosiers did not have a good matchup to stop him when Michigan State got him one-on-one.

“It was really Aaron Henry down the stretch,” said Jackson-Davis, who had the second 30-point game of his career. “He really took over the game for them and put them on his back. He was making tough shots after tough shots. Our defense wasn't holding up and they got easy baskets at the rim and easy shots going downhill. That really hurt us a lot.”

To the Indiana forward, the biggest problem on defense was the Hoosiers being out of position, leaving Michigan State (11-9, 5-9) free to rotate the ball and get open 3s or driving opportunities. The Spartans went 5 for 9 from downtown in the second half.

“That really kills you, especially when you have the lead,” Jackson-Davis said. “You are up nine and have a chance to put them away, then that happens.”

The 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball and Thompson did their best to keep Indiana in the game, combining for 31 second-half points and going 18 for 29 from the field.

They got precious little help, however, with no other Hoosier scoring for a 14:22 stretch in the second half as the IU lead disappeared. Jackson-Davis scored 12 straight Indiana points during one period.

Michigan State had a 34-5 advantage in bench points. Only five Indiana players scored.

Indiana turned the ball over seven times in the second half, leading to 12 Michigan State points. 

“All seven (turnovers) were tough and bad plays,” Miller said. “We took all the spirit and momentum away from ourselves. I would say the second (part) of the second half was not good for us on both ends of the court.”

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