EAST LANSING, Mich. — Following a three-game winning streak, Indiana ran into a complete buzzsaw against Michigan State — as the Spartans completed a wire-to-wire blowout, 85-57, Friday night at the Breslin Center.
Here’s our Rapid Reaction:
There’s a reason Indiana hasn’t been able to beat Michigan State in East Lansing since 2013 — from essentially the opening tip, the Hoosiers came out flat. With four players over 6-foot-5, Michigan State outscored Indiana 18-4 in the paint during the first half. The Hoosiers were buried after 14 consecutive Michigan State points gave the Spartans a 23-10 first-half lead. From there, IU’s decisions on offense were forced and more reminiscent of its early season losses. To the dismay of head coach Archie Miller, IU settled for contested 3-pointers and chaotic chances against Michigan State’s elite bigs.
To be perfectly honest, there wasn’t much Indiana could do Friday night to overcome its odds. The Spartans entered the affair suffering two losses in their last three games — with an unimpressive 76-72 overtime effort against Rutgers serving as the lone win. Michigan State played like a team focused to restart a previously-snapped 14-game winning streak. It was the first half that simply drowned the Hoosiers, as Michigan State was relatively unexplosive in the second frame.
Juwan Morgan Lost to Injury
Arguably the biggest concern from East Lansing was not the loss — let’s be honest, Friday’s defeat does little when evaluating the future possibilities of this Indiana team — but the apparent loss of junior forward Juwan Morgan. With 2:42 remaining in the first half, Morgan came down on his own foot, subsequently hobbling off and not returning for Indiana. The 6-foot-7 forward did not appear in the team’s second-half warmups and remained in the locker room for the rest of the night.
It goes without saying how devastating a long-term injury to Morgan would be for Indiana. Without De’Ron Davis, the Hoosiers have admittedly adapted quite well — filling the gap with minutes from either Collin Hartman, Freddie McSwain, or even freshman Clifton Moore. However, without Juwan Morgan — those rotations become depleted and dire. Morgan has been, quite frankly, IU’s only consistent player on a nightly basis. Averaging 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, Morgan’s ascent to another level has been the prime source of optimism this season. Much attention will be towards the health of Morgan, and the apparent ankle/foot injury suffered in East Lansing. The Hoosiers next take the floor Monday night at home against Maryland.
Robert Johnson Stays Hot
In the losing effort, Robert Johnson continued to improve offensively. As said many times this season, the Hoosiers become a different team when Johnson is either shooting or producing well. On seven-of-13 shooting, Johnson tallied a team-high 21 points and overcame James Blackmon Jr. for 33rd on Indiana’s all-time scoring list with 1,244 Points. In the midst of a busy and challenging stretch, a confident Johnson helps the Hoosiers in upcoming games against Maryland, Illinois, and Purdue.