EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State has won enough that one year can’t ruin its reputation as one of the top programs in college basketball.
The current Spartans, though, couldn’t afford to take another hit.
Draymond Green made a go-ahead shot with 29.3 seconds left and No. 25 Michigan State held on for an 84-83 win over Indiana on Sunday night.
“Our team needed it more than our program,” coach Tom Izzo said. “It was needed. It’s been a rough week.”
The Spartans (13-8, 5-4 Big Ten) barely avoided their first four-game losing streak in four years after losing to rival Michigan at home for the first time since 1997 and dismissing junior guard Korie Lucious from the team.
“I knew how much this game meant, not just to the team, but to coach,” Green said. “He was going against his friend, Tom Crean, and it was his birthday.”
Crean, who coached with and for Izzo at Michigan State before getting a shot to lead Marquette, came close to beating Michigan State for the first time.
The coaches took turns ranting and raving at the officials and calling plays during timeouts down the stretch, but Crean didn’t enjoy the experience.
“I hate it,” Crean said. “When you compete like he’s competing and like I think I am, it’s hard. I root for him every day of the year, but the day we have to go against him.”
Kalin Lucas scored 26 points, Green had 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, Durrell Summers scored 17 and Delvon Roe had 10 points before fouling out for the Spartans.
Christian Watford scored 21 points, Jordan Hulls had 17 and Matt Roth added 12 for the Hoosiers, who have lost 16 straight at Michigan State dating to 1991.
Indiana (11-11, 2-7) had a shot to beat back-to-back ranked teams for the first time in Crean’s three seasons with the storied and rebuilding program, but Jeremiah Rivers missed free throws that would’ve sealed the victory in regulation.
“The first one was in when it left my hand,” Rivers said. “The second one rimmed out.”
Hulls, who got tied up by Spartans center Derrick Nix with 1.2 seconds left in overtime, didn’t hit anything on a 3-pointer that sailed over the rim just before the buzzer.
Indiana was competitive despite guard Verdell Jones III missing his third and possibly last game with an injured right knee and guard Maurice Creek being out for a fourth game in a row after having surgery on his right knee.
“We can’t accept moral victories,” Rivers said. “We’re past that.
“It was a battle for 45 minutes, but they made one more play.”
Rivers missed the front end of a one and one at the line with 42 seconds left in regulation and made only one of two free throws with 19 seconds left.
Green connected on two free throws with 2.9 seconds left in the second half to send the Spartans to their third overtime game this season, all of which have been at home in the Big Ten season.
Hulls got past midcourt for the final shot of regulation and was hoping for a foul, but the officials didn’t blow the whistle because they determined he jumped into Summers.
Green made a free throw, Lucas connected on two at the line and Green scored in the lane to win the game, giving Izzo a much-needed gift on his 56th birthday.
The Hoosiers will likely look back at missed opportunities at the Breslin Center, where they’ve won only once. They led by 12 in the first half and had a 60-52 lead with 12-plus minutes left.
They got the ball into Hulls’ hands late in the game, but Izzo told his team not to foul right away—even though they could’ve run out the clock—and the gamble paid off because Rivers was hacked as soon as he got the ball and the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers failed to seal the victory.
Rivers started Sunday as an 88-percent shooter at the line after making between 44 and 58 percent of his free throws his first three seasons.
“I feel for him personally,” Crean said. “He’s made tremendous strides at the line.
“I’m very disappointed for him because he takes it hard, but we have to help him get over it because we wouldn’t have been in that situation without him.”