Indiana picked an awfully inopportune time to play its worst game of the season.
With its Big Ten destiny in its own hands, the 12th-ranked Hoosiers were demolished by Michigan State in East Lansing, 103-74.
The setback was Indiana's 14th in a row at the Breslin Center and dropped the Hoosiers (24-5/13-3) one game behind Purdue and Wisconsin for the Big Ten lead with only two games to play. Indiana's hopes of its first conference title in six years now rely on both co-leaders losing in the regular season's final week, which appears unlikely considering the teams that remain on their schedules.
Indiana had hoped to move into a three-way tie for the league lead with a win Sunday, but it quickly became apparent that wasn't going to happen. IU Interim Head Coach Dan Dakich took full responsibility for his team's lackluster effort Sunday afternoon in front of a national television audience.
"It's on me," Dakich said. "These kids have been through a lot, and it's my responsibility to make sure we're 100 percent ready to go.
"If I want to be the guy that everyone pats on the back (when we win), then I can certainly handle being the guy that everyone kicks in the you know what (when we lose)."
The Hoosiers might of handed Michigan State its worst setback of the season two weeks ago in Bloomington, 80-61, but the Spartans returned the favor in humiliating fashion on Senior Day for Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick. Michigan State made 21 of its first 25 shots and ultimately shot 77.8 percent from the floor in the first half to race to a 59-31 halftime lead.
Neitzel made 4-of-5 3-pointers in the opening half on his way to 12 first-half points, while Raymar Morgan made all five of his attempts and added 12 as well. Morgan, who had made only one 3-pointer during Big Ten play, knocked down two in the first two minutes of the game to get the Spartan onslaught started.
"They were fast, their shots were going in," Dakich said. "They were a step ahead of us every time."
Morgan finished with 20 and Neitzel added 17, leading an MSU attack that had five score in double figures.
The Hoosiers were completely dismantled early on by a Spartan team that had managed only 42 points and one 3-pointer three days ago in a 15-point loss at Wisconsin. But the Spartans exploited a sieve-like IU defense and knocked down nine first-half 3-pointers and eclipsed its previous game's point total in the first 14 ½ minutes.
Indiana had no answers on either end of the floor. By the time D.J. White scored his first point on a putback at the 5:12 mark, Indiana had already dug itself a 27-point hole, 46-19. That lead would balloon to 32 twice in the closing minutes of the half before the Spartans settled for the 28-point cushion.
By the time the game came to a merciless end, Michigan State (23-6/11-5) shot 60.7 percent overall, 54.5 percent form 3-point range, and had its 21st straight win at home. Both Neitzel and Naymick exited the game in the closing minutes to standing ovations from the crowd in their final home appearances, while Indiana was taunted by the sold-out crowd with chants of "Who's Your Daddy?" and "Who's Your Coach?" The loss was Indiana's worst since a 34-point drubbing at Wisconsin on Jan. 6, 2004, and the 103 points was the most given up by an IU team since Michigan posted a 112-64 win Feb. 22, 1998.
"You have to learn from things, and you have to be determined to not let it happen again, and you have to be determined to do it to someone else," Dakich said.
Indiana will get its first chance to do that Wednesday when it hosts Minnesota in Senior Day for four players, most notably D.J. White. Dakich said that should be motivation enough for the team to bounce back from a miserable performance.
"You have to rely on pride, and for everyone – myself included – to not let D.J. White lose his last home game," Dakich said.
Stemler 2-4 0-0 4, D. White 5-13 4-10 14, Bassett 5-12 0-0 13, Ellis 1-4 2-2 5, Gordon 7-14 7-9 22, Crawford 5-8 0-0 12, M. White 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 2-4 0-0 4, Taber 0-0 0-0 0, McGee 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 13-21 74.
MICHIGAN STATE 103
Suton 6-7 4-5 17, Morgan 7-9 4-6 20, Naymick 1-3 0-0 2, Lucas 5-9 3-4 14, Neitzel 6-13 0-0 17, Walton 3-3 0-0 6, Allen 3-8 3-3 11, Gray 3-5 0-0 6, Summers 2-2 2-2 7, Dahlman 1-1 0-0 3, Ibok 0-0 0-0 0, Kebler 0-1 0-0 0, Herzog 0-0 0-0 0, Crandell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-61 16-20 103.
3-Pointers: Michigan State 13-24 (Neitzel 5-11, Morgan 2-2, Allen 2-5, Lucas 1-2, Suton 1-1, Summers 1-1, Dahlman 1-1, Kebler 0-1), Indiana 7-22 (Bassett 3-6, Crawford 2-4, Ellis 1-3, Gordon 1-5, Stemler 0-2, McGee 0-2. Rebounds: Michigan State 34 (Suton 9), Indiana 32 (D. White 12). Assists: Michigan State 28 (Walton 11), Indiana 10 (Bassett 6). Turnovers: Michigan State 9, Indiana 14. Blocks: Michigan State 5 (Naymick 2, Suton, Allen, Ibok), Indiana 2 (Stemler 2). Steals: Michigan State 12, Indiana 7. Halftime Score: Michigan State 59, Indiana 31.
Hoosiers No Match for Spartans, 103-74
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