EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Tom Izzo and Tom Crean teamed up to build Michigan State into one of college basketball’s top programs a decade ago.
When Izzo led the 13th-ranked Spartans to a 75-47 win Saturday over the Crean-led Indiana Hoosiers, he was not in the mood to celebrate.
Izzo doesn’t like facing former assistants, especially Crean.
“Those banners that are hanging up there, he deserves as much credit as I do,” Izzo said. “He’s the first guy I hired to try to build something better. In that four-year period, we did.”
Crean was an assistant with Izzo, then worked for him from 1995-99 before leaving for Marquette. The next season, Izzo led the Spartans to the national title during their third straight trip to the Final Four, after winning their third of four straight Big Ten titles.
“I looked up at the banners,” Crean said. “It’s just amazing, being here when some of those went up and seeing how many more have gone up.
“There are a ton of great memories here.”
When Michigan State won the national title, Izzo gave Crean a championship ring. When Crean had his best year at Marquette, he gave Izzo a Final Four ring.
“That speaks volumes for the respect we have for each other and how much we think we’ve helped each other out,” Izzo said.
Michigan State beat Crean and Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament two years ago, but now they will meet each other every season.
Crean is in his first year at Indiana, trying to turn around a storied program set back by NCAA sanctions and departures.
What does he use from his experience at Michigan State to rebuild the Hoosiers?
“They don’t give you enough space to tell you all of that,” Crean joked to a reporter.
Crean then acknowledged learning a lot from Izzo, including being a hands-on instructor instead of coaching like a CEO.
“I’d like to think I took a lot of that with me when I left,” Crean said.
In the matchup of former colleagues, Chris Allen scored 16 points and freshman Draymond Green had season highs with 15 points and 12 rebounds to make up for some poor shooting and a missing standout for Michigan State.
“I played the game like I know I can play,” Green said.
The Spartans (19-4, 9-2 Big Ten) have a two-game lead over Purdue, which plays at Illinois on Sunday hoping to stay in second place and avoid a logjam with four other teams that have winning records in the conference.
The Spartans never trailed Indiana, but didn’t pull away until a 10-0 run gave them a double-digit lead midway through the second half.
“After the first half, we know we can play with anybody,” Indiana’s Tom Pritchard said.
Michigan State ended up winning easily after beating No. 19 Minnesota 76-47 following two straight losses at home.
“I’ve been complaining about the consistency of this team,” Izzo said. “We’ve been consistently inconsistent.”
Verdell Jones III led the Hoosiers (6-16, 1-9) with 13 points and Matt Roth had 10 points.
Coming off its first Big Ten win of the season, Indiana lost for the 15th-straight time at the Breslin Center.
“I know getting a win Wednesday night helped everybody’s mood, but this is not just a one-shot deal,” Crean said. “We’ve got a lot of building to do and it’s going to take a while.
“It could take a long while before we’re up to speed to be able to compete against teams like Michigan State.”
Indiana lost leading scorer Devan Dumes with 2:11 left when his fifth foul was ruled to be rough enough to draw a technical.
“I have not seen a clip of what happened at the end of the game, so I can’t comment on it right now,” Crean said.
Michigan State was without forward Raymar Morgan for the second straight game.
The Spartans’ second-leading scorer has been slowed for a few weeks with a virus, walking pneumonia and a mild case of mononucleosis. Izzo said Morgan isn’t expected to play Tuesday at Michigan, giving him another week off before a Feb. 17 road game against the Boilermakers, but the forward said he hopes to play the rival.
The Spartans were also missing production from Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, who each averaged 19-plus points the previous four games. Lucas scored 10 points but missed 11 of 15 shots, and Summers had just two points because he was 1-of-11.
Green had a breakout game, making all five of his shots and all five of his free throws.
“He was a surprise,” Izzo said. “He helped us a lot.”
Goran Suton also chipped in, scoring 12 points for the Spartans.
“They are an outstanding team,” Crean said. “I’m not surprised because they’ve been the standard bearer in this league for some time and our players saw it first hand.”