Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sounded a bit like Forrest Gump when describing his Spartans ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Big Ten game against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.
“We’ve been kind of a mixed bag of nuts,” he said. “We’re not really smooth. We don’t look real polished. You’ve got situations where you’re moving different people and playing different people. One of these days, we’re going to get everybody back. And we’re competing now.”
Izzo never knows what he’ll get, but his Spartans (13-6, 5-3) do have a little momentum heading into the clash with the Hoosiers (12-6, 3-4).
Michigan State played very well the past two games with only one win to show for it. The Spartans lost a one-point heartbreaker Monday to No. 3 Purdue, then manhandled No. 23 Rutgers 70-57 on Thursday.
The Scarlet Knights were limited to 34.4 percent shooting and missed 15 of 17 3-point attempts. A.J. Hoggard led five Spartans in double figures with 16 points.
“It was a rock fight against Purdue, and it was a rock fight again (Thursday),” Izzo said. “That means very physical, very tough games. We’re grinding through games, and we’re getting a little better at it.”
The Spartans typically have a balanced offensive attack and that was the case again on Thursday, as Joey Hauser added 13 points, Jaxon Kohler and Tyson Walker had 12 each and Jaden Akins chipped in 11.
Indiana is much more reliant on one player with Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has led the Hoosiers in scoring, rebounding and assists in the last three games — including two convincing victories.
He had 18 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and five blocks in an 18-point win over last weekend against then No. 18 Wisconsin, then supplied 35 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks in an 80-65 triumph over Illinois on Thursday.
“I just thought from a defensive standpoint we set the tone right off the bat, and we never really relinquished it,” coach Mike Woodson said. “I know we had the big lead, but teams are going to make runs. The beauty about the run is we didn’t crumble.”
The Hoosiers held Wisconsin to 32.1 percent shooting and Illinois to 38.7 percent from the field.
–Field Level Media