Hoosiers’ 17-point loss matches largest margin of defeat to date

WHAT HAPPENED: No. 5 Michigan State pounded Indiana 73-56 in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall on Saturday. The defeat matched the 69-52 loss at Syracuse on Dec. 3 for Indiana’s largest margin of defeat this season.

The Spartans improved to 13-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big Ten. Indiana fell to 10-5, 0-2 in the conference.

The Hoosiers appeared to have a chance to at least set up a back-and-forth contest if not take control late in the first half when a 10-4 spurt allowed them to cut a 21-14 deficit to a 25-24 Michigan State lead on a bank-shot jumper by sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell. MSU junior forward Branden Dawson beat the Hoosiers down the floor for a fast-break layup, however, to make it 27-24. After a turnover by IU senior guard Evan Gordon, MSU sophomore guard Gary Harris hit a 3-pointer to make it 30-24. 

The Hoosiers answered by taking a pair of three-pointers on the next two possessions and missing both. They managed three straight defensive stops, but Harris hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go to make it 33-24. Sheehey had a blocked layup attempt with 26 seconds to go and MSU took that advantage into the break.

Early in the second half, the Spartans broke it open with a 7-1 run to make it 40-25. IU coach Tom Crean called timeout and Indiana went on a 7-0 run, but the Spartans then scored five points on a layup by guard Travis Trice and a 3-pointer by point guard Keith Appling. Indiana never got closer than nine points and only cut it below double-digits once the rest of the way.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Harris, a former Hamilton Southeastern star, 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball and long-time IU recruit, was greeted by boos when his name was announced during pre-game introductions. He responded with 26 points, making eight of 18 field goals including five of 10 3-pointers. He also made five of his six free throw attempts to go with four rebounds, two assists and five steals. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was outstanding on defense, got rolling in transition and was outstanding from outside. IU coach Tom Crean said he was “an assassin,” in the game.

After disappearing against the Hoosiers in two games last season, Appling was much better on Saturday. He scored 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting and hit a pair of 3-pointers on four attempts, continuing his improvement in that department. Dawson scored 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting, scoring almost all of his points around the rim. He took advantage of Indiana’s poor ball control with three steals, which led to easy fast-break baskets. He also had six rebounds and two blocked shots.

IU sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell scored a team-high 17 points, but also committed five turnovers and scored just seven of those points in the second half with one field goal. Senior swingman Will Sheehey had 13 points with three 3-pointers and also helped hold MSU center Adreian Payne to just four points on 2-for-6 shooting. IU freshman guard Stanford Robinson had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes, and continued a stretch in which he’s been one of the Hoosiers’ most consistent players.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Against a clearly superior team — or at least a clearly superior starting lineup — the Hoosiers had zero room to make mistakes. And of course, being a young team with what is, to put it kindly, not the world’s highest basketball IQ, they made lots of mistakes.

They didn’t commit as many turnovers as usual, snapping a streak of three straight games with at least 20 giveaways, but most of them were live-ball and Michigan State was efficient in taking advantage. The Spartans had 12 steals and scored 22 points off turnovers. They had 16 points on fast-breaks, and not all of those were attributable to turnovers, but most of them were.

The Hoosiers failed to get the fall inside, which was a credit to Michigan State’s interior defense on Noah Vonleh but also an indictment of both him for not carving out position for himself and his teammates for not finding him. Vonleh scored just five points in 25 minutes on 2-for-4 shooting. He was just 1-for-2 at the free throw line. He had just one offensive rebound in the game and had neither a field goal nor free throw attempt in the second half.

The Hoosiers also had their second-worst defensive performance of the season next to only the Syracuse game. The Spartans shot 28-for-59 (47.5 percent) from the field and made 57.7 percent of their second-half shots. The Spartans were the first team this season to make 10 3-pointers against Indiana, knocking down 10 of 24 attempts. The Hoosiers overhelped on ball-handlers, got lost on screens and generally failed to find shooters on the secondary break. Michigan State was shooting well to begin with and hit shots with and without them being contested. The Spartans also won the rebound battle 34-32, becoming the first team to beat the Hoosiers on the boards.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: After seeing the trajectory the season has taken so far, Indiana fans had to go into this one hoping for the best but expecting that it wasn’t going to go there way. In that vein, this loss doesn’t change the complexion of the season much. What it does is show exactly how vast the chasm is between the Hoosiers and the national championship discussion. The No. 5 Spartans might not end up cutting down the nets, but they have a lot of the tools necessary and they played like a team with the necessary confidence to get it done. They went on the road to a boisterous venue, saw the home squad make a run, dealt with it and put it down before halftime.

The Hoosiers didn’t show nearly as much maturity and in that lies the contrast. When they had a chance to take momentum, they forced the issue too much, tried to take 3’s once the deficit was mulitple possessions and quickly fell out of control in what was a 15-1 run spread across two halves. Indiana is close to the midpoint of the season, and not playing with much more maturity than they did at the season’s beginning.


COACH CREAN:  Before I talk about us, I think they have all the makings of what a National Championship team would look like.  I don’t think there’s any question.
There’s no way to prepare to play against Michigan State and say that you can leave this guy here, you can leave that guy there.
They’re too good.  And they showed that today.  I thought Will Sheehey did a phenomenal job on fighting Adreian Payne for space for his touches, really being aggressive with him.  Adreain played excellent, didn’t force things.  They just have too many guys right now, they have too many guys that understand each other at a really high level.  They understand how to win and things that hurt us today, especially in the first half, and we’ve got to grow out of this, because it’s getting me downright angry with it.
We’ve got to grow out of understanding how not to take momentum.  So we get down 6, we get down 4, that’s not a time when you’re‑‑ you’re rarely ever going to be in the bonuses as early as you are against Michigan State, like we were today.  It’s hard.  They don’t foul very much.  Every winning statistic, they’re one of the most dominant teams in the country in those areas.
When you find something you’ve got which is important to get to the foul line, then it can’t become jump shooting time.
And we struggle right now with understanding momentum.  We struggle with understanding time and score.  Some of it is immaturity.  Some of it is youth.  Some of it is just not understanding the ball needs to go through the paint.
Noah Vonleh is going to continue to get better.  No doubt he’s got to become a more demanding presence.  He works too hard on his game.  He’s too good a person.  He’s got to be a demanding presence and become downright a little selfish.
And I hate using that term, but I have no better term than to use for him with that, because that’s what he’s got to be around the paint.
And we just‑‑ we scrapped back in.  We played a lot of different lineups to get back in the game.  We played hard.  Okay.  They played smart.  And both teams played hard.  I thought they were great battles on the boards, especially with the fact it’s a two‑rebound difference, but their maturity, their experience, their understanding of each other, that was a big, big difference in the game, the biggest difference in the game.
That’s why they have a chance to win the National Championship and that’s why we have a lot to learn.

Q.  How often is Noah open in the passing lanes when you watch him today and on film? 
COACH CREAN:  I think it’s both, I think he’s learning.  He’s going against physical people.  There’s no question about that.  He’s getting better out on the perimeter.  We’ve gotta do a better job of creating a passing angle, sometimes when they’re backed off us right now‑‑ it’s no CNN news flash that we’re not a great 3‑point shooting team.
So you’re not getting all‑out pressure, even though they had some guys today that they decided they were going after, just like we have guys we want to go after, and a little bit of it is creating the space.  Our screening in the first half was sub zero, without having the grades, without doing the grades myself, they weren’t good enough on actions.
We’re trying to make it simple to get it in.  But we’ve got to be better.  They’re a physical, imposing team.  There’s no question this was an old‑style Big Ten game in the sense of the physicality in the post.  Probably on both ends.
So no question about that.  And we’ve just gotta learn to deal with that.  Learn to deal with that.  Keep creating those angles.  But Noah has got to get more than one offensive board.  Let’s be honest about it.  We’ve to do a better job making sure we’re getting putbacks.
We’ve got to find easy baskets, whether they’re postups, through the lanes, offensive rebounds or whether, frankly, they’re free throws, being free throws.  So those are things that are really, really important.
They attacked our dribble today like we attacked theirs.  And they had more guys that could make shots when the ball went outside, and we didn’t.  And we’ve got to continue to grow and learn from those things.

Q.  Are you specifically talking about the stretch when you got down by just one? 
COACH CREAN:  Absolutely.  I want us to attack the rim.  So some of it is offense.  Some of it is offense.  Some of it is reversal.  We talk ad nauseam about points through the paint, constantly, whether it’s timeouts, whether it’s halftime, postgame, and we’ve just got to play‑‑ we’ve got great kids.  We’ve just got to have a basketball IQ, a basketball maturity right now.
And that’s where the understanding is not there yet; that, no, we’ve got to drive it to the rim, get it swung, get it inside, get it in the paint.
Great example, Jeremy Hollowell scores 2 breaks it down and goes to the rim, then trying to go inside on the second side, on the reversal play on one of our sets, we take a 3.  That’s not time or place for a guy shooting in the teens to be shooting a 3 when we’re down 6.
Those are the things that we’ve got to learn from just being completely blunt about it.  So we will.  I mean, we continue to come back and we played a lot‑‑ we played different, but we are going to have to play a great game to beat them.  Our first half hurt us.  The start of the second half, we scrapped back but we never could ever get over the hump inside of the end of the first half, beginning of the second half, without having the book in front of me, knowing the book.

Q.  Quick timeout early in the second half, was that just to make sure it wasn’t a Syracuse situation? 
COACH CREAN:  I don’t remember.  Probably.  Just change our lineups.  So when you have young guys, I mean the reason they’re so good they don’t have to rely on anybody young.  That’s why this league is so good.  The great ones just keep being experienced.  They add new players, young players, but they’ve always got experience to deal with.  We’ve got to grow through that.
Our sophomores have to pick it up.  No question about that.  And all the way around.  And again Will was phenomenal, okay?  And it was the one leader that we had inside of this game, but he can do more with his voice.
But when you’re guarding Adreian Payne and giving up that size and weight, you’re pretty much in a one‑man battle right there.  You don’t have a lot of other things you can focus on.  That’s how we have to play, how we have to go.  We didn’t feel like anything different we could be in foul trouble from the very beginning of this game.

Q.  Talk about Stan’s defense today on Gary Harris. 
COACH CREAN:  Aggressive.  I wish we would have got him on Harris quicker in the first half to be honest.  Gary was an assassin today.  Never hunted, always in spacing, always in movement.  Very improved as a player.  We’ve covered that a lot.
But you got to match guys like that, guy’s desire to compete in the game.  Stan did that.  But his offense really came on just action, activity, aggressiveness, break, things like that.

Q.  How have you Stan grow up these past few games? 
COACH CREAN:  Stan?  Going into the Illinois game, the previous seven games he had highest plus/minus and it wasn’t close.  So there’s a good example.  And what he’s doing‑‑ I asked him to do this a couple weeks ago‑‑ I don’t want it to be a technical‑‑ but, again, I’ve got to look at that on film.  It was a chippy game all the way across the board.  So I’m not going to overreact to that.
But he’s got a personality.  He’s got a toughness about him.  And he’s building his skill level.  You’re always working and building your skills but you’re developing your mindset.  And it comes‑‑ your skills get better.  That helps the confidence.  But a lot of times just bringing out the personality and doing what you know and doing what’s always worked for you.
A year and a half ago he was basically a 4‑man in high school.  That’s why they won so much.  He came from a great high school program and went off to Finley, won a lot played against a lot of exposure.  And here he is.
We need him to be a blue‑collar, just go‑at‑it guy, because that’s what he is.  And he’s doing more of that for us.

Q.  What do you need to see more from Jeremy Hollowell? 
COACH CREAN:  We need to see more out of everybody.  I wouldn’t distinguish.  When you lose a game, there’s not one class that doesn’t need to get better.  But we’ve got the spotlight on the sophomores right now, if we’re going to break it down to class.  They’ve got to improve.
Everybody’s got places they can grow in, and shooting the ball, passing the ball, you know those types of things.
But we just need to play, we need to play and understand time and score.  Not play‑‑ just going up and down the court just understanding what the game is bringing.  The more you play, the more you learn that.  I get that.  I hope you all get that.  I hope the fans get that.  The more you do it, the better the understanding you have.  It’s not like we can all of a sudden put three months of Big Ten basketball into these guys’ bodies.
We can show them all the film we want.  It doesn’t work that way.  But we’ve got to start to understand time and score and momentum because that’s what so many of these games come down to throughout the game.  And we’re pretty good on the break, pretty good at offensive rebound and pretty good in the middle.
Michigan State is pretty good on the break, pretty good at offensive rebounding, they’re really good in the middle.  And that’s really a microcosm of teams.  They’re really, really strong throughout each possession.  They understand time and score.  They’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays.  We’ve got to continue to trust what works for us.  And when you’re in the bonus the way we are, we’ve got to understand that, that’s what we’ve got to continue to just pound on expound upon in practice and in coaching and film work and all those things all the time.
We’ve got to understand that sometimes we’re just going to have to make some changes in the game with the personnel that’s on the floor to get that understood.

Q.  How much was Michigan State hitting their 3s based on them hitting them on the defense, leaving them open? 
COACH CREAN:  I haven’t really looked at the stats.  Let me see.  Big mistakes, couple times, especially when we fouled.  We’re leaving‑‑ this happens when teams don’t understand it yet which we don’t.  You can never let the speed and the pressure of the game override what is really, really important, would like the scouting report.  Travis Trice was shooting 74percent from 3 in the away games.
We probably said that 37,000 times in the last three days.  You don’t leave him.  You don’t do that.  You’ve got to understand we’ve got the dribble picked up, and we just didn’t play with great awareness on some of that.  And then a couple times we misplayed screens.
I haven’t looked at the film obviously, but we misplayed screens.  But a little bit was just overhelp and not get back out and just‑‑ we stopped‑‑ we stopped understanding and we got the ball covered.  Don’t leave the shooters.
And the other day we were really good at that.  That’s part of the youth process, I guess, because the other day we held that team to 11percent from 3.
We didn’t help off shooters.  They had outstanding shooters too we helped too much, got too much in the scramble.
And frankly we played some lineups we don’t play very often, as you probably know.  You throw caution to the wind and you’re trying to get back into the game.

Q.  What started to get away from you guys in the second half?
WILL SHEEHEY:  Taking shots, making them take contested shots.  They had too many open looks off their break.  Did a good job stopping the initial break but their secondary break we didn’t stop enough shots.

Q.  What happened with the bandage? 
YOGI FERRELL:  Just falling on the floor, really, court burn.  I’m all right, though.

Q.  Talk about the number of turnovers you gave up. 
YOGI FERRELL:  Still had more than what we wanted to get for turnovers.  The thing about that, we didn’t get enough points off their turnovers, I felt like.  But we just had to kind of take care of the ball.
We made great runs, but we could never push over that hump.

Q.  What makes Michigan State a strong team? 
YOGI FERRELL:  The ability to get out and run, especially offensively and defensively, they do a great job of help side defense, I felt like.  They especially packed the lane a lot.  Those are the things they do well.

Q.  What was Michigan State doing to take Noah Vonleh out of the game?
WILL SHEEHEY:  They were fighting him for his catches, making every catch tough for him.  He’s got to find a way to get more touches, easier touches.  He’s got to work harder to get open.  And we’ve got to work harder to get him open.

Q.  Was there anything that Michigan State did to stop your breaks?
WILL SHEEHEY:  We just had to wear them down, and we didn’t get a point where we could speed them up enough so we could get on the break.  They had some second chance points and when the ball’s going through the rim it’s hard to get your break going.
So we went to contest shots, make them shoot more contested shots and get out on the break.

Q.  Is there a certain amount of adjusting to the pace of the game in the Big Ten? 
YOGI FERRELL:  I’m not really sure.  I can’t remember their turnovers, but I think a lot of them are unenforced and that’s just the flow of the game.  We’re okay with those kind of turnovers.
But turnovers where we’re just giving them the ball and they’re scoring and things like that, we’re not okay with.  So they’re still learning.  And we’re just going to learn to teach them every day.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey


  1. You need to add a “C” option to your Hoop Scoop Poll Question:

    Men’s basketball: NCAA or NIT bound?

    A. NIT
    B. NCAA
    C. None of the above


  2. More from the sophs huh? The Movement, was it? The supposed highest ranked recruiting class in the country?

    If you all notice, on offense there are SO many possessions where our own players are in the lane stopping or getting in the way of our own players on a drive. That tells me the offensive scheme is chaotic. Everyone should know where they are supposed to be and what the options are off of a half-court set. At least 3 times yesterday (& once in a key last min. possession at ILL) players brought themselves and their defenders onto the ball. Inexcusable.

    Hollowell is a bust. Why does this kid start??!?! Anyone? Please help. I wouldn’t doubt if he transfers because he is THAT clueless. I say we change his number to #34 to match that of Trent Richardson up at Lucas Oil.

    More Devon Davis. Here’s a kid who will be at IU for 4 yrs. barring a transfer because of lack of playing time and erratic substitution patterns.

    Still need Remy Abel and Mo Creek….but we let them transfer too. Same with Roth last year. These losses add up to L in front of the game score.

    Perea is improving, but he makes 1 mistake and CTC takes him out. At least he had position and was in the lane! I think we need to play Perea and Vonleh at the same time to take foul pressure off of both of them. Like it or not, Perea is our C either next year or the year after. May as well get him some PT. Not that Perea is a stud by any stretch but he plays hard, is hard to score against, and he hits his FTs. He’s clearly improved from the 0 he was as a freshman.

    Then I’d probably sub in and out Stan, Williams & Gordon at this point. I think Gordon needs to start over Hollowell. I mean, c’mon, is it even a question that should happen?

    Sheehey is a tweener; not a F and not a G. However, he’s much better than any other F we have right now, so he’s got to play.

    My updated starting 5:
    Perea or Davis

    6th man: Stan or Troy
    15th man: Hollowell….right after Jurkin. Hollowell needs a message and I think it won’t be comprehended anywhere else but 3 straight games on the bench.

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