Michigan State basketball drops regular season finale at Indiana, 64-65

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Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA Today Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A dunk from sophomore forward Malik Reneau lifted Indiana to a 17-point lead early in the game.

And for an extended stretch, it felt like Michigan State couldn’t flip the script.

The Spartans failed to muster any fight in the first 11 minutes, being out-rebounded, out-shot, and clamped on defense.

But an 8-0 scoring run and five Hoosier turnovers put the Spartans right back in the contest before halftime, and they trailed by a mere five points, 39-24.

“I’m upset. But I’m also proud because in that environment, the way we came back, the way we executed, the way we shot,” head coach Tom Izzo said.

Michigan State gained the momentum it needed before halftime, and when the team strolled back onto the court for the final 20 minutes, the momentum followed them.

Graduate guard Tyson Walker nailed a triple, and junior guard Jaden Akins poured in back-to-back threes. All of a sudden, Michigan State had its first lead of the game at 38-36.

An eventual seven-point lead for Michigan State brought the team back into the game, and MSU remained in control of its fate as the minutes ticked away.

But in all too familiar fashion, the lead slowly crept away from the Spartans as the cheers and jeers from within the concrete walls of Assembly Hall grew louder and louder for the Hoosiers.

While Walker was busy putting on a scoring clinic, recording 20 second-half points to finish with 30 on the night, Indiana’s Kel’el Ware continued to punish MSU’s big men and finished with 28 points of his own.

“[Mike Woodson] did a hell of a job with Ware. He deserves a lot of credit. I played against Ware last year; he wasn’t very good. Now, kind of like our kid Booker, I think strength, and I think he’s tougher…the last half of the year, he’s been a force to be reckoned with,” Izzo said.

With 17 seconds left, the sophomore center went 1-2 at the free-throw line, giving the Hoosiers a one-point lead.

Coming out of a timeout, the ball went to the hands of Walker, who drove to the hoop but couldn’t finish the layup off the glass with only seconds to spare, and Indiana gave its fans a going away victory on senior night, 65-64.

Dropping four out of five games to end the regular season certainly put a damper on the NCAA tournament hopes for Michigan State. However, with the Big Ten tournament still left to play before Selection Sunday, the Spartans can still put in a good word for themselves on the court.

“New season starts Thursday. I’m kind of happy the old one’s over. Learned a lot. Figured out a lot. Hopefully we’ll do a better job,” Izzo said.

With the Big Ten regular season officially coming to a close, the Spartans have locked themselves into a No. 8 seed for the conference tournament. They will prepare to face the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, the No. 9 seed.

While expectations flooded this Spartan basketball team, from pre-season No. 4 in the AP poll to signature wins over Baylor and Illinois, putting this team on a pedestal that they can beat the best, no one expected more of this team than the team itself.

“If we [MSU] play how we did after that first 15 minutes, we can play with anybody in the country…I’m tired of saying the same things after every loss,” senior guard AJ Hoggard said.

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