In a game featuring two of the BIG 10‘s best defensive groups, it was the offensive explosion from behind the arc that was impressive. With the intent of limiting inside scoring, Indiana employed an outstanding 2-3 zone that did force Michigan State to shoot from deep.
The Spartans, always one of the best defensive teams in the nation as long as Tom Izzo is the coach, played physical defense that tends to keep teams on the perimeter. The intention of both defenses is to make opponents settle for tough shots, except last night both teams did not feel uncomfortable launching three point shots.
The usual scoring leaders for the Spartans and Hoosiers, Keith Appling and Cody Zeller, both took back seats offensively last night, Appling because of foul trouble and Zeller because of great MSU defense. However, both teams shot 50% from three point land in the first half, 11-22, and finished 43% for the game. Leading the way was Spartan freshman Gary Harris, shooting 5-10 from deep and leading his team with 21 points.
The 75-70 loss for the Spartans hurts but the unveiling of Harris as a legitimate scoring threat, even against outstanding defense, has to be encouraging to Izzo. The 6-4 guard, who last year was the state of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball as a senior in high school, is the teams second leading scorer but often has to take a back seat to Appling and Derrick Nix in the post.
Last night, while facing constant boos from a rowdy Hoosier crowd, Harris took on the role of number one option and thrived. On a night that saw Michigan State drop to third in the BIG 10 rankings a shooting star was also seen.