MSU overcomes lack of energy to down Indiana

Spartans need a big performance from Gary Harris and Branden Dawson's energy to survive and win 71-66 in East Lansing on Tuesday night.

It seems nothing comes easily for Michigan State in Big Ten play at Breslin Center.

After back-to-back overtime wins at home, the Spartans won their first conference home game in regulation, beating Indiana 71-66 to stay unbeaten in Big Ten play and move to 18-1.

"We found a way to win," coach Tom Izzo said. "We are going to run out of luck one of these days if we keep playing like this."

It was a lack of energy that plagued the Spartans, which were without Adreian Payne for the fourth straight game, throughout the first 30 minutes of Tuesday's game.

"We just for some ungodly reason, Denzel (Valentine) said we just didn't have the energy," Izzo said.

"Coach said it was a lack of focus tonight," junior Branden Dawson said. "He said a couple of guys came out and we weren't focused as a team. That's the main thing, you have to be focused as a team."

After foul trouble limited him to four points in just 11 minutes in the first half, Gary Harris again was the thorn in Indiana's side with 20 second-half points and four 3-pointers.

He increased his scoring average against IU to 22.5 points per game in his career with 24 total points after posting 26 in the Spartans' win in Bloomington on Jan. 4.

Harris helped key a 20-6 run in a 5:36 stretch in the second half in which the Spartans pulled even, ahead and ultimately away.

"I felt it going our way as soon as the second half started," Harris said. "Everybody came out and everybody had the right attitude and we had the right energy. It took us until like the 10-minute mark to turn it up, but I had a good feeling going into it the whole second half."

Izzo credited Harris with putting the team on his back, but it was Dawson in that same stretch that drew the praise of Izzo, who said Dawson "probably won the game for us."

"As well as Harris played, I expect that out of him," Izzo said, "but Dawson might have been a game changer just in that stretch."

With the Spartans trailing 48-46, the forward took the ball in the post, hit a layup and drew the foul for a three-point play and the lead.

"It felt good," he said. "The crowd was up on their feet. I think that kind of started it for us. Gary Harris picked it up for us, but I think that play really changed the game."

He followed with a defensive rebound and assist to Valentine for a three-point play. Shortly after, he skied to tip in a missed two-point attempt from Harris to cap a big three-possession stretch for Michigan State.

Dawson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, but more importantly, he provided the energy the Spartans needed to eek out another win at home.

"He definitely got us going as a team and once he did that, the lead started to spread," Harris said.

Now, the Spartans turn their attention to a rivalry game with Michigan, who would enter East Lansing as the only other remaining team unbeaten in Big Ten play with a win against Iowa on Wednesday night.

"With that game, we can't come out with same intensity we came out with in this game," Dawson said. "They have been playing good and they have scorers on the team, so we can't come out with same intensity that we did tonight."


Spartan Digest Top Stories