IU head coach Archie Miller said prior to Saturday’s game against Michigan State that the team was going to need as many minutes as possible from senior forward Freddie McSwain.
Miller rewarded McSwain with his first start of the season and the 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior delivered. He logged a career high 29 minutes while grabbing 16 rebounds in the 63-60 loss against the much bigger, stronger and physical Michigan State Spartans.
“Part of starting Freddie tonight was, one, he's playing better and he's giving us some production,” Miller said. “He's giving rebounding effort, he's giving us another physical guy out there that can play in the post a little bit from a defensive perspective.”
McSwain’s physical play was on full display. Of his 16 rebounds against the Spartans, nine came on the offensive glass giving Indiana second chance efforts time and time again.
The Hoosiers out-rebounded Michigan State overall 53-29, 25-3 on the offensive glass and outscored the Spartans on second chance points 14-0.
“Just going out every day and just playing my hardest,” McSwain said. “Every time opportunity is called, start or coming off the bench, I say just come in help the team do whatever to help the team win.”
During the first matchup between these two teams, Michigan State ran away with the game, winning by 28 and out-rebounded the Hoosiers 45-27.
McSwain and the other forwards took that rebounding margin to heart.
“In East Lansing they punked us,” junior forward Juwan Morgan said. “We came to this mindset, I know me, Freddie, Collin and Justin, we talked amongst each other and we were, like, this can't happen. We need at least one or two of us to go get 10. And that's what we did.”
McSwain and Morgan combined to finish with 27 rebounds, just two shy of Michigan State’s entire team Saturday night.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said postgame that the 25-3 advantage for IU on the offensive glass was an insult to him, his players and anyone who has ever played at Michigan State.
Indiana out-worked Michigan State on the glass, at the free throw line and in the turnover battle, but they couldn’t pull out the victory.
The team shot just 29-percent from the field and senior guard Robert Johnson finished with the same amount of points as McSwain at eight.
.@Mcswain_Jr21 knows how to work hard on both ends of the floor. Saturday night he pulled down a career high 16 rebounds against Michigan State in 29 minutes. #iubb
Story: https://t.co/lUySjuelBP pic.twitter.com/9HMB4o8mz9
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) February 5, 2018
Those second chance opportunities were there, as Indiana took 19 more shot attempts from the field than MSU. The shots just didn’t fall.
“Freddie in particular was really active. And I thought a lot of guys made a lot of hustle plays and played hard, just went after it,” Miller said. “It's probably one of the things that helped us being able to get those extra shots. Being able to outrebound them is one of the reasons we probably hung around.”
One knock on McSwain is that he went 0-for-4 from the free throw line in a three-point loss, including missing two free throws with under two minutes left that could have given IU the lead.
But you can’t count on a 50-percent free throw shooter to ice the game.
The effort he gave on both ends of the floor was irreplaceable, coming from a player who only averages about three points per game. He logged 25-plus minutes in back to back games for the first time ever and did everything possible in order to win.
For as much as Michigan State was a handful defensively, with 13 blocks as a team, on offense they were shut down. Not one Spartan forward scored more than 10 points, and only one grabbed more than four rebounds.
McSwain and his all-out effort for 29 minutes was a major reason why Indiana had a chance at the final buzzer.
“That's what he does every day,” Morgan said. “He attacks the glass relentlessly. The way we see it, nobody can keep him off the glass. As a result that's what the 16 boards looks like.