Hoosiers hold on, upset No. 6 Spartans 79-75 in OT

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Justin Smith and Al Durham bumped chests. Devonte Green raised his right hand and saluted the Indiana bench. Archie Miller walked down the sideline and offered his Michigan State coaching counterpart, Tom Izzo, a quick, emotionless handshake.

Finally, the drought was over.

As the final buzzer sounded, and an announced crowd of 14,797 filed out of the Breslin Center in shock, the Hoosiers rejoiced. IU’s reserve players spilled onto the court at the end of Saturday’s 79-75 victory over the No. 6 Spartans, enveloping their teammates in a sea of mass relief.

Indiana killed a seven-game losing skid in upset fashion, doing so in one of the most unlikeliest places. After nearly a full month’s worth of letdowns and empty efforts, the Hoosiers had reasons to smile.

And they did, filing off the court and into an unfamiliar space — a victorious, upbeat locker room.

“It’s been a long three weeks here,” Miller said.

Indeed it has.

Suddenly, a team that dropped all but one of its eight games in January now owns the Big Ten’s best in-conference win of the season. It came inside a building that has been historically unkind to the Hoosiers, a place where even some of Indiana’s better teams in recent years have faltered.

The win is only IU’s second triumph in its last 23 trips to East Lansing.

Incredibly, that’s not even the most amazing part of the story.

The Hoosiers (13-9, 4-7) earned it through a product of hot perimeter shooting and end-to-end engagement, picking each other up after their most important player, Juwan Morgan, left the game late in the first half.

All told, it was IU’s most impressive team victory of the season.

IU played the final 31 minutes without Morgan, who injured his left shoulder during a loose ball scramble with six minutes remaining in the opening period. It was the same shoulder that Morgan had to have surgically repaired after his freshman season, and while Miller had no immediate update on his senior forward after the game, there were encouraging signs.

Morgan returned to the bench in the second half, and although he didn’t check in, he could be seen coaching Indiana’s underclassmen during breaks in the action, guiding his teammates from his spot on the bench.

Even without Morgan, IU outrebounded Michigan State 48-40, grabbing 20 of those on the offensive glass.

“Obviously, Juwan is a big part of our team,” sophomore Justin Smith said. “Once he went down, we kind of had a next-man-up mentality and we were able to go out there and get it done without him, but we look forward to having him back.”

Smith played a significant part on both ends, finishing with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while using his fingertips to record a clutch block of Michigan State star point guard Cassius Winston in the waning moments of overtime that helped IU seal the win.

Others had their moments, too.

De’Ron Davis returned from a three-game, injury-related absence and logged a season-high 25 minutes, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing a Big Ten career-best four assists.

Al Durham also played through an apparent hand injury, gritting his way to 14 points in 37 minutes. Durham and Devonte Green, who returned from a three-game suspension, each drilled three 3-pointers while knocking down the kinds of open, long-range shots this team has craved.

Indiana connected on 10 of its 20 3-point attempts, tying its season high set against UC Davis on Nov. 23. It was an unforeseen outbreak of deep makes for the Hoosiers, who hadn’t shot better than 26 percent from beyond the arc across their previous five games.

Ten was the magic number Indiana needed to hit. In each of Michigan State’s previous three losses, the Spartans (18-4, 9-2) yielded at least 10 3-pointers. The Hoosiers accomplished that goal, doing so through equal parts ball movement and patience.

They finished with 21 assists on 28 made field goals.

“It’s just amazing when a guy makes an unselfish pass or the correct read on a drive, or the one more pass when a guy’s open, or he reads the ball screen and delivers it,” Miller said. “It’s amazing how those balls go in. It’s amazing how the other balls don’t go in when there’s absolutely zero chemistry out there and the ball just does not move the way it’s supposed to move.”

Romeo Langford led Indiana, which returns home to host Iowa on Thursday, with 19 points.

In a game with 15 lead changes, Langford’s second-chance 3-ball gave IU the go-ahead boost two minutes into the extra period. Through his work at the free throw line, Durham helped IU extend that lead to four points with 57 seconds remaining.

Then, a series of turnovers saw IU nearly throw away its opportunity to break out of its funk.

First, an error by Green at midcourt turned into a 3-pointer for Winston. What appeared to be a miscommunication led to another error in quick succession, this time by Durham.

Michigan State couldn’t capitalize on the second opportunity, however, and fouled Davis on the miss. The IU junior made one of his two attempts to put IU ahead 77-75.

On the other end, Smith’s block helped seal the win.

“I saw Cassius Winston get loose going to the basket, so there’s like, 30 seconds left and I said, ‘Might as well go try and get it,'” Smith said. “Maybe deter it, maybe block it, maybe he’ll miss it when he sees me coming. I got a little fingertip on it and deterred the shot.”

Late in regulation, the Hoosiers hit four 3’s in a row to take a 62-60 lead into the final media timeout.

The teams traded leads in the last minute of regulation: a 3-pointer by Spartans forward Kenny Goins — his third of the day — gave Michigan State a one-point lead before Langford’s layup put the Hoosiers back in front with 34 seconds remaining.

After Nick Ward made only one of his two free throws with 18 seconds to play, Indiana held for the last shot of regulation — a desperate heave by Langford that wasn’t close.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, Langford wouldn’t miss his next look from deep.

The Hoosiers also benefitted from Michigan State’s struggles at the line. The Spartans made only eight of their 22 free throws. Ward, alone, went 1-for-9.

“This one’s a big confidence booster for us, just to keep the momentum going into the last (month) of the season,” Langford said. “We just came in every single day, even though we knew we were on this losing streak, we just came in every day to make ourselves better than the day before.”

Not only is Indiana’s losing streak over, so is its road-heavy start to the new year. From here, the Hoosiers will play six of their final nine games in Bloomington.

In East Lansing, Mich., Indiana rediscovered its swagger. Now, as they navigate the back stretch of the schedule, they have a chance to get their season back on track.

“I feel like this league doesn’t respect us,” Davis said. “Even though we started off hot and now we’re cold, the league doesn’t respect us, coaches don’t respect us. We’ve got to get respect for our coaching staff and our team. This win opened us up and now we’ve got to go.”

41 comments

  1. For my money that was one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history.

    Show up at Breslin Arena with a ragtag group and a couple really good players, lose one off the bat, and beat the #6 team in the country on their floor with an inexperienced M.A.S.H. unit.

    It is hard to believe.

    Good for them.

    1. Just five hours ago…Not too prophetic, huh?

      Harvard for Hillbillies says:
      February 2, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      Basketball is such a screwy game….Nebraska comes in and beats us on our home court and then goes on a five game losing streak of their own. And Illinois handles Nebraska today….Many of you had expressed how horrible you believed Illinois to be.

      Michigan was almost completely shut down at Iowa….

      Kentucky has looked like world beaters for the last few weeks…and, today, they look average playing at Florida.

      Screwy….screwy game. And as much as some believe our guys are playing like individuals and our coach has resigned this season away, I’m not sure if this screwy game of basketball is going to still make many of us eat our words. Never give up….Never give up.

      Great win for the Hoosiers…Wow. Total team effort. They never did give up. There is still a chance to rescue this season. Everything hinges on Justin Smith….He sure kept his poise and made some huge defensive plays down the stretch. Clutch free throws by DeRon as well….Big shots by Romeo. …and Fitzner made a three. Fabulous stuff.

  2. It made me happy if for no other reason than a bunch of Glass-Miller haters are now unhappy.
    One of the most amazing games I’ve ever seen.

  3. You must not watch much basketball then. It just makes Glass comments seem more ridiculous. Hopefully Won’t be a NatHill VI

  4. UCLA vs Houston
    Lee Alcindor vs Elvin Hayes
    January 20, 1968
    Houston Astrodome

    Steve Alford and Hoosiers vs UNLV 1987

    Many others.
    You get to a certain point and there are many so called greatest games. Just like rating teams and players.

  5. Hey, call it what you want. For that matter, be as dismissive as you want.

    After Morgan went down the chances of IU winning that game were close to zero.

    That was incredible.

    1. Given the losing streak, the doom and gloom talk, the total lack of chemistry that’s been plaguing this team, the bricks we’ve been throwing from the perimeter and free throw line, the long history of losses in East Lansing, Archie in 2nd season vs. Izzo, ESPN’s College Game Day, MSU just coming off a butt shellacking in West Lafayette, Morgan being unavailable for 3/4 the game, Green back for his first game after a suspension, Hoosiers having to use a very young bench rarely tested for such hostile environments, Phinisee fouling out, and then asking this beat up bunch who just got heartbroken by not capitalizing with a last possession in regulation to then go to a five minute overtime and keep it together ….and WIN?

      Yeah, I think I’ve gotta go with Chet on this one. It may one of biggest college basketball upsets of all-time. Don’t know much about the sports gambling scene, but I think the numbers would back it up. It’s certainly one of the biggest Hoosier upsets of all-time. He’s not saying “biggest victory” of all-time. It’s certainly a big one for Archie though…. There’s really nothing “homerism” about it.

  6. UMBC beating Virginia was the biggest upset ever come on gentlemen lets not overdue the homerism please

    1. Right team, wrong game.

      The biggest upset in college basketball history was Division II Chaminade defeating #1 ranked Virginia in Hawaii. The NCAA had to make a special provision for a DII team to even play a DI team but Chaminade was a local Hawaii school.

      Virginia, led by Ralph Sampson, was coming off a tough non-conference schedule that had included wins over Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas and Akeem Olajuwon’s Houston Cougars.

      UMBC was an underdog but they were a conference winning DI team playing in the NCAA tournament. That is a a huge leap from being a little DII school matched up against the #1 team in the country.

  7. It was a great win for the PLAYERS. The COACHING staff was totally inept at the end of regulation and into OT. They just about blew it. I cannot speak to what happens off the court in drills and training sessions but when the game is up for grabs…….simply pathetic. With 14 sec in regulation after a timeout RL is the only guy that touches the ball and ends up with a 30 foot air ball! On inbounds pass in OT MSU has 3 defenders to 2 IU backcourt guys and Durham loses ball on inbounds,…,,duh.

    1. Strange I didn’t see 1 coach on the court during those plays. Those 2 negatives were on the players who were involved.

      1. Ok Clarion, tell us, what is the responsibility of a coach/staff with a timeout, huddle on sideline and possession and a tie game?
        Answer: A designed play is called to maximize the possibility of scoring, even a single point in this instance. The only thing that was done correctly was getting the ball inbounds. As for being pressed on the other end while trying to inbound the ball in OT it’s not too smart to allow 3 defenders on 2 guys trying to take the inbound pass without making sure adjustments are made.

  8. One of my bonehead predictions, made on this site on Jan. 31 after the Rutgers loss, finally came true, in a big, almost erie, way. The latter part of sentence one is yet to be seen, but it all starts with a Win.

    “This team will emerge again, at some point this season, and beat someone we shouldn’t beat, gain confidence and roll off a winning streak. We’ll have a hot night from behind the arc. Shoot 20 3’s and hit 10, for example. It is very likely. But knowing what we now know in all facets of the game, this team is a hodgepodge. ”

    I’m proud of this ugly win. This team persisted until the buzzer finally sounded the 3rd time. Love it, love the emotion, love the kids commenting after the win. Could be a bit of a Colts season remake. Then again, maybe not. But this proves that anything is possible on any night.

    We just beat the leagues best team at their place. Soak that up ya’ll.

    1. Eerie indeed, AWinAz. Maybe add in my thoughts I posted five hours before tip-off regarding basketball being a “screwy game” and telling this team to “Never give up,” and I’d say we were both channeling. Anything is truly possible on any night in the wonderfully screwy game of basketball.

      These were the sorts of contests you simply lived for when you passionately following Indiana high school hoops before we ruined it with multiple multi-“class” tournaments. You’d pick up a morning paper and find some score of a game that just put a huge smile on your face….Some team expected to be run out of a gym playing in an almost ‘out of body’ manner to take down a Goliath on their floor. Nobody on the planet saw this one coming…

      Who knows where we go from here…but, wow…..this one epitomized what the game of basketball is all about. Eerie….screwy…beautiful…mystical. The candy stripes soaked a little of their history back into those lovely warm-up pants tonight. Never give up. Remain undaunted.

  9. As for Morgan, I sure hope he’s ok. I certainly understand the training staff’s decision to hold him out the 2H. And I do appreciate his bench side encouragement. And I love the kid for sticking with the program & the player he’s become.

    But, I would love him a helluva lot more if he would’ve pulled an Elgin Baylor and told Archie “I’m going back in.” Yes, I admit it, I’m uninformed & no doctor, but I’m still disappointed in what I perceive as being “too soft” in a dogfight against #6. If he had told Archie that, I’d think we’d have heard about it after the game.

      1. Yeah, what you said, Willis Reed. Morgan was on the bench clapping. If you can clap & raise you arms in celebration, you can play. That’s my point. But the result proves an even bigger point that they can execute & win without him.

    1. As someone who has had four shoulder reconstructions I feel safe in saying that, if Juwan has a rotator cuff injury, he likely could not lift his arm no matter how much he wanted to. He would have been useless in a basketball game.

      De’Ron showed up, though.

      1. I think you should just tell us the two structures/bones/muscles/organs of your body you’ve never had an injury. How are your eyelids? Hair follicles? Earlobes? Forget earlobes…You probably had them ripped off by a Pit Bull…or something.

        I had a messed up rotator cuff injury …eight shoulder dislocations….bone chip in shoulder and a slew of other issues. The rotator cuff did take months before the aching finally, magically, suddenly went away. The orthopedic doctor recommended I get the operation…He was so damn snidely that I said the hell with it. My shoulder, though never regaining its 100% strength, gives me no pain. Still very susceptible to dislocations….

        1. I trashed mine in fairly spectacular fashion leaving multiple tendons detached among other niceties. They would not heal without intervention.

          None of my surgeries would even remotely be considered elective if I wanted a reasonable quality of life. $hit happens.

          My problem is that my enthusiasm far exceeds the limits if my motor skills.

  10. Happy to see this team finally win again, especially after their senior leader went down with yet another injury. It is amazing what making free throws and 3-point shots can do. My guess is that MSU’s players took this game for granted and got burned because of it. MSU certainly did not look like the 6th best team in the country today. Hopefully JM will be O.K.

  11. Brad, anybody who thinks the Romeo play at the end of the game was a called play is insane. No way the bench set that play up! Romeo took it upon himself to win the game at the end. I am sure to some extent the play might of been designed for him to take the ball to the basket but, when he couldn’t get an avenue to said basket , he panicked and threw up that ridiculous shot at the end. Clarion, you are correct, no coaches on the floor, the kid simply did what he did when he ran out of options. I was throwing pillows at the TV when he took that shot! Four point lead and possession of the ball and we do dumb things on the court which almost cost us the game. Some time players do dumb things when least expected, Clarion is right, no coaches out there handling the ball. Sometimes players are told the right thing to do and they simply don’t execute what was designed, happens all the time. Sorry Brad, I will stick with this coaching staff. They will get it done if the players execute plays.

    1. …I’d add this given RL’s BB IQ in a similar situation again he will make a much better decision 100% of the time…no coach on IU’s sideline called that play…

    2. Mike C: Duh! Ya’ think? That’s the point! No player movement, no ATTEMPT to pass…just Romeo dribbling out the clock looking for a way to get to the bucket with the entire MSU team doubling him and clogging the middle. If there was a play called it was “OK Romeo, we’re gonna get you the ball safely behind the 10 second line, then dribble, dribble, dribble until you find an opening to the basket (even though they’ll have 5 guys on you)..don’t pass, just fling a 30 footer if you can’t get to the hoop.” No screen, no give and go, no deception, no offensive player movement..and of course no ‘picket fence’. At the end of the possession he was in no mans land. Sorry man, that’s terrible play calling.

    3. Were you in the huddle? All we know is that 4 IU players stood motionless from the moment RL received the inbounds pass (maybe in an attempt to clear the lane?).
      THAT WAS THE PLAY.

  12. Not only did DeRon come up clutch to hit his final two free throws, but if you watch the replay of his rebound setting up the free throws, he managed to grab a board which was actually a deflection. It was only DeRon’s cat-like instincts that saved us from disaster because someone else had allowed the board heading right back to his reached out hands to escape/squirt from his grip.. Who had the slippery fingers? Yup, you guessed it. It rhymes with careen.

    We were tough as nails…but we were so, so lucky as well.

  13. 9 out of 10 times, the mistakes we made on final possessions would have cost us the game.
    The wild shot by Romeo …
    The inbounds pass to the corner putting Durham in a terrible spot…
    The turnover by Green when he was trapped.
    The missed rebound by Green which, fortunately, found its way into DeRon’s hands.
    I’m sure there were a couple more I’ve already forgotten….

    Proud of the effort. It was truly a miracle win and a screwy/”eerie” night.

    Justin Smith’s two blocked shots in closing segments of regulation and OT pretty much made up for everything stupid he’ll do for the rest of his IU career. Though still quite raw offensively, he had a monstrous game.

  14. Off-topic …but I want to know AWinAZ’s “prediction” for the Super Bowl. Are you feeling like something eerie is in the works? Brady throws interception on final drive sealing the win for the Rams?

    I’m going with the Rams…This feels a lot like Namath vs. Unitas….(outside of Goff not having the ‘stones’ to predict he’ll take down the legendary qb and his legendary coach/Pats).

    There’s always so much combativeness on Scoop…I thought going off-topic could be something to Unitas.

    1. I predict the refs will continue to swallow their whistles and continue to allow the Pats o-line to hold, clutch, rape and pillage their way to keeping their primadona QB upright.

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