Michigan State basketball suddenly finds its groove to rally past Indiana, 78-71

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Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Say what you will about the NCAA tournament or where the talent level might be for this iteration of Michigan State basketball. The Spartans continue to show they are not ready to call it quits.

Not even when all of the mistakes from the past two months crashed together again Saturday.

Turning the ball over nine times in the first 9:19, leading to 17 Indiana points. Missing open looks and falling behind by 13 points midway through the first half. Defensive lapses and foul after foul.

Then coach Tom Izzo stumbled into a lineup featuring Joshua Langford at point guard, Rocket Watts playing off-ball, Gabe Brown on the wing, Aaron Henry at forward and Thomas Kithier in the paint. And something changed.

Stops on defense. Shots started falling. Turnovers vanished. And most importantly, shots started falling.

MSU stopped a two-game losing streak with a 78-71 win over the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall, shooting 56.7% in the final half behind 28 combined points from Henry and Langford after the break.

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Henry equaled a career high with 27 points, Brown rediscovered his shooting touch with four 3-pointers and 14 points. Langford shook off early turnovers to finish with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Spartans (11-9, 5-9 Big Ten) to keep their faint NCAA tournament hopes afloat at the start of a grueling stretch.

It was the first of four games in eight days for MSU, which welcomes No. 5 Illinois on Tuesday (7 p.m., FS1). The Spartans host No. 4 Ohio State on Thursday at Breslin Center before traveling to Maryland for a game next Sunday to close that stretch, but then faces the Hoosiers again March 2 in East Lansing before closing with back-to-back games against No. 3 Michigan on March 4 in Ann Arbor and March 7 at Breslin.

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Henry played all 40 minutes, finishing 9 of 17 shooting. He also had five rebounds and two assists, scoring 16 in the second period.

Trayce Jackson-Davis had 34 points, 20 in the second half, and nine rebounds for the Hoosiers (12-10, 7-8). Race Thompson added 13 points and Armaan Franklin scored 13.

MSU committed 14 turnovers, five after the brutal start. Indiana did not score again on a Spartan giveaway after the 9:19 mark.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball finds its groove to rally past Indiana 78-71