Hoosiers upset No. 6 Spartans in rematch, 63-62

Around a screen, along the arc and into the corner, Rob Phinisee didn’t flinch.

He couldn’t afford to, not with the game on the line and arguably the best player in the Big Ten dribbling the ball against him. Cassius Winston had delivered in so many moments of Saturday’s rematch between Indiana and Michigan State, and with 8.5 seconds remaining in a one-point game, the Spartans’ super point guard seemed poised to make the day’s biggest play.

Instead, that honor went to Phinisee, who shadowed Winston in lockstep across the perimeter, forcing him into an off-balance attempt in the final seconds and sealing IU’s 63-62 upset of No. 6 Michigan State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

With the Hoosiers (15-14, 6-12) desperate for one final defensive stop, Phinisee delivered against one of the nation’s most potent playmakers. The final sequence earned Phinisee a hug from IU senior co-captain Juwan Morgan, who embraced the freshman point guard at midcourt as arena security braced for a raucous court-storming.

Students lingered on the floor long after the win, IU’s second straight over a ranked opponent, reveling in a moment of catharsis that didn’t seem likely merely days ago. Outside the Indiana locker room, members of the pep band formed a human tunnel in the hallway, whooping and hollering as the Hoosiers walked back to Cook Hall to gather their belongings and leave for the day.

For the first time since Jan. 3, Indiana has won back-to-back games, positioning itself for a stretch run that could lead the Hoosiers back to the postseason.

“Attitude is everything,” IU coach Archie Miller said.

There, Miller was talking about forward Justin Smith, whose career-high 24 points buoyed the Hoosiers during another uneven offensive performance. But Miller could’ve been talking about his team as a whole, a group that has played with renewed vigor since a humbling and embarrassing loss at Minnesota on Feb. 16.

Lately, that vigor has translated to wins, with Indiana following Tuesday’s victory over No. 19 Wisconsin with a second triumph over the Spartans (23-6, 14-4), whose pursuit of a Big Ten title suffered a major setback in the process.

Purdue is now in sole possession of first place in the conference, and as news of Indiana’s victory spread through Mackey Arena on Saturday, something uncommon happened. The Hoosiers’ winning effort drew cheers and applause from their rival fan base in West Lafayette.

Back in Bloomington, the Hoosiers were similarly enjoying the moment.

“We were 1-12, or something like that, but we really weren’t focused on that,” Smith said. “We were taking it one game at a time, and now that we got two in a row, it’s next game up. We’re looking to build off of it. It feels good to get a win. It always feels good to win. We’re just going to continue. We want this feeling again.”

Smith has been chasing a day like this for weeks.

The two best performances of his young career have come this season against Michigan State. Smith was a factor on both ends of the floor in IU’s Feb. 2 win in East Lansing, delivering a clutch block against Winston in the final seconds to close out the overtime win last month.

On Saturday, he was IU’s lone source of offense for a chunk of the contest, starting his second straight game in place of an ill De’Ron Davis. Smith supplied 13 of IU’s first 14 points and had a season-high 16 by halftime. He later set his career high with his 21st point with 15 minutes still to play.

“When your attitude is great and you’re focused in on just doing whatever you can to help, good things tend to happen,” Miller said. “I think that’s where Justin really changed his mindset after Iowa, and with De’Ron being sick and not really being available this past week, he was thrust back in there. Today, obviously, I wasn’t going to take him off the floor very much. He had a career day.”

That was especially true on the perimeter, where Smith matched his career high with three 3-pointers.

“Go with the percentages,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I’m not a big analytical guy, but a guy hits (almost) as many 3s in one game as he hits all season, maybe it’s destiny they’re going to win.”

Around Smith, the Hoosiers struggled to get going. Indiana didn’t see another player make a field goal until Phinisee’s 3-pointer at the 5:31 mark of the first period. Indiana trailed 35-28 at halftime, but used a 9-0 run to get within 45-44 at the second media timeout of the second half.

The Hoosiers’ ability to weather runs and eventually generate support for Smith helped make it a game. Devonte Green supplied 11 of his 13 points in the final period, heating up with three 3-pointers. His third 3 of the day got IU within 62-59 at the final media timeout.

Indiana’s recovery on the glass was also a major factor. After Michigan State grabbed 18 of the game’s first 26 rebounds, IU outrebounded the visitors 31-30 for the day.

Morgan pulled down a game-high 11 boards for the Hoosiers, who recorded 35 total offensive rebounds in the two games against the Spartans.

“Being able to be up 31-30 at the end of the game I think speaks volumes about why the game may have changed,” Miller said. “We got stops. We were able to rebound the ball, and then we got some timely transition opportunities.”

And timely baskets.

With 1:46 to play, Indiana took its first lead since the opening moments when Morgan put back a miss by Romoe Langford and converted a three-point play to give the Hoosiers their 63-62 lead.

Indiana held Michigan State scoreless over the final 4:13 of regulation, clamping down with some heads-up defense by Phinisee.

Even before he stopped Winston in the final seconds, Phinisee made one of the smartest plays of the game when he fouled the Spartans point guard on a drive to the basket with less than 10 seconds remaining. IU had a foul to give, and as Phinisee saw himself getting beat he checked Winston to stop the clock and prevent an easy basket.

On the reset, Phinisee stepped up again, locking down on Winston and sending Indiana to another uplifting win.

“I thought we outplayed them for 38 minutes and we didn’t win a game,” Izzo said. “That’s the beauty of basketball.”


  1. Everything hinges on Smith….

    He finally gave me the game I was looking for all season….Hooray.

    Good time for Green to give his most ‘controlled’ performance of the season.

    Unbelievable defense by Phinisee in MSU’s final possession.

    1. Rob’s D was incredible! Tough as nails, locked in. Been a while since I’ve seen someone defend like that in Assembly Hall.

      MSU has 4 conference losses with 50% of them coming from the Hoosiers. Whodathunkit?

  2. It wasn’t pretty, ugly as ever, but they gutted out another win! Been hard on Justin and Devonte, but couldn’t be prouder than they way they played today. Maybe, just maybe, the light is coming on for both of them. With the blanket coverage on Juwan and Romeo, someone had to step up big time and they did. Great final play coverage by Rob on Winston.

    1. Jeff, I must admit, you have the heart of Rocky. You just keep coming back for more. I guess everyone is soft compared to you. I wouldn’t keep coming around here for more beatings.

      Granted, it’s just you punching yourself, but it’s a marvel to see you still coming back for more.

    1. Just so we’re clear…My “funny as hell” comment was in response to the 62-62 typo of the final score.

  3. Great game. This team has totally turned around their energy and confidence. Who would have thought that we would get 16pts from Romeo and Juliet and end up beating MSU at home. Great to see Justin Smith respond to reduced minutes by going on a tear. Green played solid down the stretch.

    Oh and this “soft team”, pulled 15 offense rebounds vs the 2nd best defensive team in the Big Ten. Also, only 8 turnovers.

    It wasn’t pretty, this team has never been that. But after they looked dead in the water, they’ve responded and are bringing the fight, hard.

    First sweep of MSU in 7 seasons. And this has been one of their better teams, too.

    Not so soft.

    1. DD,
      Imagine what this supposedly “soft” team could have achieved if they had been healthy all season and could actually shoot consistently. Nothing has come easy for them, they’ve had to fight for every scrap they could get. May not go too far this year, but instilling that kind of culture in your program will pay off down the road.

      1. Yeah think, I’m with you. Lost in the banter with the peanut gallery here, is that this has been an incredibly challenging season. But it is still unfolding in front of us. And they’ve pulled off a couple of games that they weren’t supposed to win by razor thin margins. You’re right, I see a lot of “program foundations” that bode well for the future.

        Speaking of health, I wonder of Juwan got hit with the bug that has been going around the team? Seems like he was really hurting in timeouts and stoppages. Dude is tough. How many times did he just get mauled with no foul call today?

  4. I’ll keep coming. You never come with anything. Just endless babble and nothing of substance

  5. Tom Izzo deserved to lose this game…He showed a real lack of class in the halftime interview with his “dare” words at Smith. I won’t go into detail but he was basically throwing Justin under a bus rather than taking the high road and crediting Smith with a nice first half.

    1. Agreed H4H,
      I’ve been as harsh in my criticism of JS as anyone, but when he does well he should get his kudos and I give them. I’m just hoping his play today is a sign of things to come.

    2. Ah c’mon Harv. He was just being honest. He just said Smith hadn’t hit a 3 in 4 weeks. Which is true! But the beauty of it was those 3s opened up his drives later. Smith was “the man” today & Izzo was planning on more of the same old Justin Smith.

      So glad to see him do well along with Green, 2 of the 3 weakest links on this team. Both played great today! Amazing what a little pine will inspire.

      Great win!

      1. I would mostly agree with that if not for the fact Izzo became snarky with the reporter….It was more his tone than his words. He was attacking a kid for a good performance instead of taking the high road….I sorta think it crossed the line of ‘fluke painting’ when he followed up with “we’ll see how many he makes in the second half” while he departs quickly in his verbal drive-by insult.

        If Izzo truly wants to discuss “flukes,” then he should spend a lot more time on the one who cashed 30 million in checks from Indiana University instead of a kid having a good game. Archie out-classed the veteran coach today. No sideline jumping jacks or kissing of a mentor’s kneecaps needed.

      2. I’ve also been a fan of Smith …and continually said the team really needed him to play up to something closer to his potential. I believe I said the season would hinge on his ability to figure some things out and show improvement.
        I certainly wouldn’t call him a “weakest link” …..He’s contributed significantly on the boards and has made big defensive plays in tight games….He’s contributed in ways outside of scoring the ball. But today he finally got some shots to fall. He still has issues with lunging and balance/footwork.
        I’d have my suggestions to fix some of it….but who’s gonna care what I think? I think the shooting woes outside of the paint were more mental…There is nothing wrong with his form. Inside and near the paint is where footwork and balance needs more fine tuning and evolution. Work in progress…but the young man plays hard.

        1. Now your next challenge, AWinAZ, is to bring back your biggest fan on Scoop. I would assume you know who I’m referring. He enjoyed quoting you and building upon your early season claims/predictions/thoughts. If a joke can be taken around here without “creepy” references, here’s a hint. Take care.

  6. I was very “impressed” with Archie in the final timeouts. His demeanor is of a man in control…..Not too high and not too frantic. Also impressed with the manner he handled substitutions and rotations. This guy has a natural ability to know the pulse of the game.

    1. I’m with you on this. I have to admit to a bias with Archie. I like the way he carries himself. His temperament and demeanor is very refreshing. He sees and pays attention to the flows and nuances of the game. That attention can only come from someone who just really loves basketball. Hard not to root hard for a guy like this.

  7. Just a note that won’t show up in the stat sheet, looks like Al Durham is stepping up in the leadership role. He’s the one that seems to be the most vocal out there, holding the huddles together. He has a lot of flaws in his game, but he’s maturing.

    Mike/Jeremy, you can see/hear what’s going on apart from the telecast. Are you seeing this?

  8. The more you see of Izzo there’s a lot more to dislike about his behavior, a real crybaby, he must feel that he’s the special chosen basketball coach of the Big Ten.

    1. Izzo is no prince. He’s part of the culture in the MSU athletics department that has looked the other way in numerous sexual and physical assaults by MSU basketball players & coaches.


      So many things to criticize about Tom Crean, but he found one of his coaches has punched his girlfriend right in the face, he’d be running into Glass’s office with his pants just below his nipples getting his pink slip ready.

  9. Purdue is up 31 vs Ohio State on national TV. Let’s talk about how vastly superior Chris Holtmann is again….

  10. I watched this game twice and I’m still not sure how IU won. It was all sorts of ugly that ended up being beautiful. Obviously I loved the fight and the mental toughness displayed. Obviously, the effort on defense was superb. And it is gratifying to see two players who have been sketchy most of the year make such huge contributions. I thought this was Green’s best performance by far, and to a certain extent he may have redeemed himself today. And Justine Smith just looked like a different person today. I’m not sure this qualifies as a “signature win,” but beating MSU twice in the regular season is HUGE. And today’s win was made even sweeter based on Izzo’s classless comments at half time. The man behaves as if his team is entitled to win, and I agree with Double Down’s comments above Izzo being a part (a big part) of a rotten culture in MSU’s Athletic Department.

    Great win today. But now they have to demonstrate that they can carry this effort forward in a hostile environment Hopefully, their offense will begin to catch up with their defense. If it does, the end of the season might turn into a pleasant surprise for The Hoosier Nation.

    1. Did you have the “not impressed” 180° spin move comment ready if Winston’s shot goes in? It’s like playing poker with a winning hand always under the table….lol.

      What did the wife think of your situational awareness this afternoon? “Situated” on the couch while you watched the game twice sounds more like situational weariness.

      Maybe watch the game one more time….I couldn’t help but notice how you avoided the use of the word “impress.” Did Phinisee’s defense impress? Have you (or the wife) come to be more “aware” of how RP’s absence, and the subsequent setbacks in getting back to anywhere near 100%, during the heart of our season had a very significant correlation to the very tough stretch/losses for the team?

      A healthy Phinisee is certainly a change in situation now. I don’t wonder as much where this team could be with better shooting….because I’m aware that an absent and detoured point guard completely knocked off the roster and his game due to a serious concussion was the greatest roadblock this team faced. The confidence of his own shooting and those around had to suffer when he was nothing close to being right. Everything flows from the point guard’s reliability and strength(as certainly demonstrated by the motor who sets all the pieces for MSU).

  11. I’d really like somebody to research the last time a team with such terrible shooting stats/skills defeated so many top-20 teams in one season. Has there ever been a team with worse shooting stats that defeated five teams ranked in the top 20 in the same season?

    And just think what this team could have accomplished if it just had average shooting skills!

  12. Field Goal %: IU 37.7%; MSU 54.2%
    FT %: IU 61%; MSU 80%
    3-point %: IU 9/24 – 37.5%; MSU 6/15 – 40%
    Steals: IU 10; MSU 2
    Total Turnovers: IU 8; MSU 14

    In spite of another bad shooting percentage performance, IU took and made more 3-point shots and we took and made more free throws. Smith and Green deserve credit for good shooting today. But look at the number steals for each team! That’s how good defense wins games.

    1. And turnovers…..Did a Crean team ever have a number as low as 8 turnovers for an entire game(especially against a team as defensively tenacious as MSU)? Most Crean teams would have 8 before a first TV timeout against Grand Canyon Tech.
      Notice(aware) what a healthy Phinisee can do? My guess is that Phinisee was in the mix of creating many of those steals as well….

  13. Is it to much to ask for a 3-4-5 point win sometime? But at this point any win is impressive. Kinda. Sorta. Watching Duke play is boring.

  14. Excellent win. IU beats MSU in their own gym as the way it is suppose to be.
    Actually, IU close wins should be on MSU home court. Nevertheless, excellent win.

    1. Like this.

      But who’s gonna believe me….? I always doctor images….You’ll have to take Double Down’s word.

  15. Just watched Izzo’s post-game news conference and lost even more respect for the man. What a whiner! He’s crying about his team being worn out because they’re missing a couple of guys due to injuries. The irony of his statements were totally lost on him. Injuries!? You want to whine about injuries affecting your team, Izzo? IU has had a lot more injuries this season than MSU and they’ve still beaten you twice. In response to questions about Smith’s outside shooting, Izzo said, “why would you worry about a guy (Smith) that has made four 3-pointers all season?”

    Izzo’s comments make IU’s regular season sweep all the more enjoyable. Izzo is getting old and does not realize that his best coaching days are behind him. I just listened to a man whose skills and perspective are in decline. He can’t comprehend how his team got beat twice this year by IU.

    1. Saturday was my B-DAY. I’ve turned 39 again. Approaching 3 dozen times for that same celebration. My Bride and I away for the weekend watched the game from a downtown Noblesville establishment named the Grindstone Public House. Just an observing opinion; kinda think with Dane Fife being HC in E. Lansing adjustments would have been made at halftime to make things tougher for Smith in the 2nd half. D and rebounding was the M.O. of Article Miller’s Dayton teams and it is manifesting now in Hoosierland. Really, really hope to draw PUke in the B1G tournament. Why not go for it all. KB announcement soon. I also think there is near 50-50 likelihood Romeo comes back for a Sophomore season.

  16. Izzo = one National championship
    Izzo had a lot of competitive teams but falter or fall short in March Madness tournament except once.
    Better than TC but a lot of similarities.

  17. Chet, love it lol. Many B town folks wanted Garland…I’m thrilled w Rob! Any word on Race and why he didn’t play?

    1. JPat, I think with Justin Smith going off, Archie just went with the hot hand. Race brings the D, but with Indiana only getting scoring from JS, he went with the hot hand. A nice adjustment.

      1. … and with Morgan not being in foul trouble the need wasn’t as big to bring Race in…

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