The Spartans needed all of the mental toughness they built up over the course of the season just to force overtime against the desperate Hoosiers.
They turned to Cassius Winston in overtime. And for the first time, he came up short.
Winston hit a critical 3-pointer in overtime but missed a pair of floaters in the final seconds as No. 6 MSU went ice cold at the free-throw line in a 79-75 overtime loss to Indiana at Breslin Center.
Winston finished with a game-high 26 points on 9 of 22 shooting, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. Senior Kenny Goins added 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and tied the school record with eight blocks. Xavier Tillman had 13 points and seven rebounds.
It was another rough game for Nick Ward, who scored 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting but went just 1 of 9 at the free-throw line. He had six rebounds.
The Spartans were 8 of 22 from the free-throw line in the game.
MSU (18-4, 9-2) falls back in a first-place tie atop the Big Ten with Michigan after losing back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since falling to Illinois and Maryland in March 2017 at the end of the regular season, Winston and Ward’s freshman year. It also snapped the Spartans’ 15-game home win streak, going back to last season.
De’Ron Davis hit 3 of 4 free throws in overtime to help the Hoosiers (13-9, 4-7). Freshman Romeo Langford scored 12 of his 19 points for Indiana in the second half.
OT falls short
Much like the rest of the game, overtime went back and forth.
The Hoosiers took a three-point lead on a Langford 3-pointer and two free throws from Aljami Durham with 2:53 left.
Winston hit a pair of free throws to pull MSU within a point, but Justin Smith (13 points, 10 rebounds) got a tip-in to re-extend Indiana’s lead.
Goins was called for a moving screen on Tillman missed a 3-pointer, but Goins got an extra possession with a loose ball dive with 37.4 seconds left. That set up Winston’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 30 seconds left.
Then after the ensuing inbound pass, Kyle Ahrens dove and knocked the ball out of bounds off Durham. But Winston missed a runner, and Indiana’s Davis was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws.
Winston got it back going on the move, but his driving layup attempt came up short after being tipped.
Indiana came out strong, hitting 5 of 10 shots to open the game. But the Spartans’ defense began to smother the Hoosiers, holding them to 6 of 26 shooting the rest of the half.
Matt McQuaid stifled Indiana freshman phenom, Langford, for most of the game. He got some help after picking up his third foul in the second half from MSU freshman Aaron Henry.
Then McQuaid got whistled for his fourth foul with 6:07 left, a charging call on a drive. Izzo left him in, and his senior co-captain drew a charging foul on Langford at the other end, then got fouled on a drive to the basket on the return trip.
The Hoosiers found life at the 3-point line, though, in the second half. Four straight from beyond the arc, including one from Langford over McQuaid’s replacement defender Ahrens, put Indiana up 59-55 with 5:20 to play.
However, Goins answered at the other end with a 3 for MSU. Winston’s driving layup gave them a brief lead, then DeVontae Green hit a 3-pointer to swing it back the other way.
MSU continued to miss its free throws, and Langford drained a step-back jumper over Ahrens to extend the Hoosiers’ lead to 64-61 with a little over 3 minutes to play.
Tillman split a pair of free throws, then got a critical block on Langford with 1:20 to play. That set up Goins’ 3-pointer with a minute remaining that gave MSU a lead.
But Langford drove and scored at the other end over Henry and Tillman to make it 66-65 Hoosiers.
Ward, who was 0 for 5 at the free-throw line, made 1 of 2 with 18.3 seconds left to tie the score at 66-66. Then Henry blanketed Langford out front on defense after an Indiana timeout and forced a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that flew well left of the target and forced overtime.
The Spartans went just 6 of 18 at the free-throw line in regulation.
Langford finished the game 6 of 18 from the field as the Hoosiers shot just 38.9 percent for the game. However, they made 13 of 19 free throws and outrebounded MSU 48-28 overall.
Rebounding, running woes
Izzo harped on his team’s need to get more rebounds, particularly on the defensive end so the MSU offense could get out in transition.
Indiana, however, prevented the Spartans from getting out and running by pounding the glass early in the game. The Hoosiers had a 26-18 rebounding edge at halftime, which included 13 offensive boards. They also retreated on missed shots for much of the half to prevent MSU’s break from taking shape.
Winston was MSU's leading rebounder at halftime with five, and Aaron Henry had four. The Spartans’ big men combined for just seven, only one by Ward.
Still, the Spartans showed efficiency on their six offensive boards, scoring 10 second-chance points on them. Two of those four buckets came on Winston 3-pointers to give MSU a 31-28 lead.
Winston played all but 52 seconds in the opening period, scoring 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting.
The Spartans appeared to catch a break late in the first half when Indiana’s Juwan Morgan left the game and did not return with an apparent left shoulder injury.
The Hoosiers finished with 16 second-chance points on 20 offensive rebounds. MSU grabbed 14 offensive boards and converted 19 points off them for the game.